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Monday 15 July 2019
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Health Ministry to monitor private primary schools for measles immunisation

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram

Chief Medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram says the Health Ministry, working alongside the Education Ministry, will visit private primary schools to ensure all students are immunised against measles.

In a phone interview yesterday, Parasram said many private schools were not enforcing immunisation, which is the law, as much as they should.

"We would like the word to be spread to the principals that immunisation should be complete prior to entrance into the school, which includes the second dose."

Earlier this month, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said under the Public Health (Nursery Schools and Primary Schools Immunisation) Act Section 3 (1) "no person may be admitted into any nursery school or primary school unless he produces to the principal thereof a certificate of immunisation with respect to every communicable disease."

He said the ministry will rigidly apply the law if a child was not immunised with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines (MMRI and II).

Deyalsingh made this statement in light of the rise in the number of measles cases around the world, and said some children who were not vaccinated were getting into the education system.

The subject of measles resurfaced when some adults said they were being told that if they were immunised before 1989, they needed to be immunised again.

However, Parasram said that has not been a directive from the ministry.

"Once you have had one dose of measles vaccine, it gives you between 93-95 per cent protection. With the second dose. it could go up to 97 per cent, so I think those immunised prior to 1989 would more than likely have gotten one dose. which. in the broader scheme of things. is very good protection. Generally speaking, we have not advocated for persons to have it broadly across the country because the coverage is good throughout the population."

He said before 2018, in TT a second dose of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was given at four-and-a-half to five years old. However, the World Health Organisation, recognising the upsurge in measles, decided the need to lower the age down. Now children can get the second dose by the age of two.

"What we have been doing is a catch-up campaign. so everybody between two and five who would not have had it already, we would be reaching out to them to give it to them early."

A Pan American Health Organisation report says there was an explosive outbreak of measles in the Caribbean from 1988–1990. To combat this, the PAHO measles elimination strategy was implemented

This consisted of a mass measles vaccination campaign for children aged nine months to 14 years (catch-up), maintenance of high vaccination coverage for each birth cohort in the routine programme (keep up), and follow-up campaigns generally targeting children aged one to four who were born after the previous mass campaign.

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