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  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions, which saves the lives of some three million children in the Americas each year.
  • Dr. Tufton said that deaths from measles have decreased by almost 80 per cent over the past 10 years, which, he noted, is a significant achievement.
  • The 14th Vaccination Week in the Americas will be held in Jamaica from April 23-30 under the theme: ‘Go for the gold! Get vaccinated’.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions, which saves the lives of some three million children in the Americas each year.

He was speaking at the launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, April 21.

Dr. Tufton stated that through a global vaccination programme, smallpox was eradicated in 1980, and polio is on the verge of being wiped out.

“Immunisation has led to a substantial reduction of illnesses and death from diseases such as polio, measles, whooping cough, rubella and newborn tetanus,” he stated.

Dr. Tufton said that deaths from measles have decreased by almost 80 per cent over the past 10 years, which, he noted, is a significant achievement.

He said that Jamaica’s immunisation programme has managed to eliminate a number of vaccinated-preventable diseases.

These include poliomyelitis (polio) in 1982; measles in 1991; rubella, 2000 and the last case of newborn tetanus was recorded in 2001.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Noreen Jack, said that Vaccination Week in the Americas seeks to raise awareness and promote the benefits of vaccination, while seeking to strengthen the immunisation programme in countries throughout the region.

“The initiative also seeks to identify and reach populations, who are most at risk at contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, due to their lack of access to routine immunisation,” Dr. Jack noted further.

More than 365 million persons have been vaccinated since the launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas in 2003.

In Jamaica, the immunisation regulations under the Public Health Act require all parents to have their children vaccinated with the primary series of vaccines by 12 months and to obtain booster doses as required.

It also mandates that children must be adequately vaccinated for their age, prior to entry to school and this includes day care and nursery facilities. The regulations only allow for exemption from vaccination based on medical reasons, and not on religious or philosophical beliefs.

The 14th Vaccination Week in the Americas will be held in Jamaica from April 23-30 under the theme: ‘Go for the gold! Get vaccinated’.