Not enough children getting measles shots

April 15, 2019

An insufficient number of children are being vaccinated against measles. The health ministry said that 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.

But the number of children being immunised against the  highly contagious illness has not been reaching the benchmark. According to Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, "There has been a decrease in uptake of the vaccines over the last few years, and in 2018, Jamaica had 89 per cent coverage of MMR1 and 82 per cent coverage of MMR2.

"We are therefore 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," Tufton said.

Amid recent increases in the number of cases of measles in the United States and across the region, the Ministry of Health has said it is monitoring the island for imported cases. The illness is caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer,  said that most cases of measles are mild and that symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure to an infected person but may appear as early as seven days and as late as 21 days after exposure. Measles typically begins with a high fever, a cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.

She added: "Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out, usually as flat, red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat, red spots."

Other News Stories