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Low vaccination rates to be tackled

A working group has been set up to tackle vaccination concerns.

The Department of Health has created a working group to tackle fears over Bermuda’s lack of immunisation take-up.

The working group includes department staff, GPs and members of the public and will concentrate on education.

The department said it wanted parents to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella and all get all the other vaccines in the Bermuda immunisation childhood schedule on time.

Children should get their first shot aged 15 months and another at four to six years of age.

Kim Wilson, Minister of Health, said during the Budget debate that statistics for last year showed that Bermuda’s immunisation coverage is 78 per cent, well below the global target of 95 per cent.

She added: “Vaccine hesitancy is a primary challenge.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that low vaccination coverage increased vulnerability to re-emerging vaccine preventable diseases including measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

The spokeswoman added that evidence has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed vaccines were safe and effective.

She said that a study in Denmark had found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

But the spokeswoman added: “Measles outbreaks occurring worldwide remain a threat to Bermuda.

“Travel in and out of Bermuda increases the risk of someone coming to Bermuda with measles.”

People with measles may experience a fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash.

The virus can be spread through sneezing, coughing and close contact and can live in a room for up to two hours after a person with measles was present.

The spokeswoman added: “Choosing not to vaccinate can be serious, in addition to the discomfort for the sufferer and inconvenience caused by illness.

“A child that is thought to have measles may need to be kept home for up to three weeks.

“They will be unable to go to school or nursery, or participate in their regular activities, even if they feel better, until tests show they can’t spread the measles virus.

“Blood tests are necessary and can take up to two weeks to get the final results. Family members and close contacts may need to stay home during this time too.

“This can mean prolonged time off from work, inability to leave the house to do normal activities, and restricted travel.

“Restriction is necessary to prevent the spread of the measles virus to others.”

For more information about vaccination or to make an appointment contact Hamilton Health Centre on 278-6460.