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Parents urged to ensure children’s immunisations are up to date


Tribune Staff Reporter

HEALTH officials are urging parents to ensure that their children’s immunisations are up to date, warning that they “are seeing the rise of forgotten illnesses in developed countries” that could potentially pose a threat to The Bahamas.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Phillip Swann made the plea yesterday during a press conference at the Office of The Prime Minister where he also advised Bahamians to continue following the recommended health measures like handwashing and appropriate cough etiquette.

He said the ministry has already received reports of cases of influenza-like illnesses and even identified influenza type A (H3N2), though he noted that it was not a cause for concern as the number of confirmed cases were not high. Diseases like polio, whooping cough and measles are also of concern.

“So, as a reminder, the pandemic is not over. We are also entering the flu season, so we ask you to exercise the usual protective and infection control measures of washing hands, wearing a face mask and appropriate cough etiquette,” the acting CMO said.

“We imagine that after the mask mandate has been lifted, there may be a rebound increase in the number of cases (or) reported cases of acute respiratory illnesses and these may be COVID-19 or influenza or any other illness that may be transpired or transmitted.

“However, we once again emphasise the need for personal responsibility - and if your child or you have signs of a respiratory illness, stay at home, or keep your child at home and call your primary care provider for advice.”

In terms of immunisations, Dr Swann said it was especially important for parents to ensure that their children keep up with their routine vaccinations given the resurgence of “formerly eradicated” illnesses such as polio among other diseases.

“We understand that during the past two years, there may have been a challenge with accessing these vaccines in our clinics. However, access to clinics have changed in recent weeks and we encourage persons to please ensure that your child’s immunisation is up to date,” he continued.

“We are seeing the rise of forgotten illnesses in developed countries, including parts of the world that we call source markets. Most of the working adults are immunised and none the worse for it.

“It is the little children who are not being given an opportunity to see the routine immunisations, who are at risk for serious illnesses and in some cases, death. Immunised adults are immune from contracting disease, yet they can still serve as carriers and subsequently infect children and others who have not had the benefit of vaccines.”

He also revealed that officials have been advised that The Bahamas could experience imported cases of polio as a result of it being circulated in New York and London, “two cities with whom we have direct flights multiple times a week.”

Dr Swann added: “We have actually had an imported case of pertussis or whooping cough in the past month.”

“In recent memory, we’ve had cases of reported measles, and the reality is that these formerly eradicated illnesses are making a comeback because of low numbers of persons having had their child vaccinated with the same vaccines that they were vaccinated with their children.

“It is perhaps a good time to remind the public of the complications of one or two of these infections, which like other infections one cannot see on an individual. Polio represents a sore throat and fever and may progress to headaches, dizziness and neck and back pain, and most severe presentations progress to flaccid paralysis and death.

“There is no treatment for polio, but it may be self-limiting.”

Vaccines for polio, German measles or rubella among other diseases are available in the country free of cost, he added.