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Health Minister concerned about decreasing take up of measles vaccines

Dr. Melody Ennis, Acting Director in the Family Health Unit at the Ministry of Health
 
Concern has been raised by Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton about a decrease in the take up of the measles vaccines in Jamaica within the last few years.
 
The annual target for measles vaccination is 95 per cent.
 
However, Dr. Tufton said Jamaica last year recorded 89 per cent coverage of the MMR1 and 82 per cent coverage of MMR2 which are the vaccines for measles.
 
In the last two years, measles cases have been increasing in several countries with a 300 per cent rise globally.
 
There has been outbreak of the infectious disease in the US since the start of the year.
 
In a news release on Monday, the Ministry of Health said in order to stop the disease from spreading, 95 per cent of children in Jamaica need to be fully vaccinated with the two doses - MMR1 at 12 months and MMR2 at 18 months. 
 
Dr. Tufton is appealing to all parents to visit the nearest health centre to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated as measles kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.
 
The Ministry of Health has increased its response to measles since the start of year in the wake of the oubreak of the disease in some countries.
 
Sixty healthcare professionals have been trained to respond to the outbreak, with mandatory training of rapid response teams across the island.
 
The ministry added that information relating to the revised target groups and parish coverage for the MMR1 and MMR2 vaccines has been communicated to all health teams. 
 
Additionally, the ministry is again circulating communication to sensitise doctors and other health care workers about the increased risk of imported cases of measles and to heighten the index of  suspicion for the disease.
 
The ministry said a public education campaign has started to sensitise members of the public to guard against infection. 
 
Persons may call 888-663-5683 or visit the nearest health centre for more information.
 
Dr. Melody Ennis, Acting Director in the Family Health Unit at the Ministry of Health, said most cases of measles are mild and symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to an infected person.
 
However, Dr. Ennis said they may appear as early as seven days and as late as 21 days after exposure.
 
The symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes. Two to three days after the symptoms start, persons may notice tiny white spots inside of their mouth. 
 
A rash of small red bumps will develop after three to five days. It begins at the hairline on the face and usually spreads downwards to include the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet.
 
Dr. Ennis said the complications of measles include ear infection, diarrhea but more sever complications are pneumonia and swelling of the brain. Pregnant woman can also deliver premature babies and babies with low birth weight.     
 


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