Immunization is the Law – Chief Medical Officer of Health Reminds


Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, is urging health care providers, parents, schools, and day care providers to ensure that all children are appropriately immunized, as to do otherwise would be breaking the law and may endanger their health.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester’s reminder comes against the background of the Ministry’s confirmation of the first local case of Measles since 1991. This was disclosed yesterday (May 26) at a Measles Outbreak Response Emergency Meeting held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
According to information shared by the Ministry’s surveillance team, the local case is a 17 month old child who had regular contact with the imported case. The child’s vulnerability was heightened as she was not fully immunized for her age.
“The Ministry is seeking the cooperation of all parents, health care provider and caregivers in ensuring that our children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester said.
In citing excerpts from the Jamaica Immunization Regulation of 1986, Dr. Campbell-Forrester said “Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the provisions of the immunization regulations, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable under summary conviction thereof in a Resident Magistrate’s court to a fine not exceeding $500 or in default of payment thereof, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days.” These charges apply for each child not adequately immunized.
“Measles is a highly contagious illness and we are concerned that more cases could appear among persons not adequately protected against it. The best protection against measles is to get immunized on time with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine,” she said.
In praising the health team for their efficient response, Dr. Campbell-Forrester implored the forum to continue the good work which is crucial to Jamaica regaining its health status of former years.
Measles is a highly infectious illness involving a red, raised rash starting on the face and moving down the body. A high fever with coughing, runny nose and red eyes usually precede the rash by several days. The disease is spread through coughing and sneezing. While most persons recover from the illness, measles can involve serious complications, including pneumonia and brain inflammation. Measles can also lead to death.

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