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Measles risk remains low, but stay vigilant

With a recent warning from PAHO that measles may again be on the rise in the region, two HSA health professionals have said Cayman’s risk remains low.

But they say there are still those who could potentially put the rest of the population at risk.

“Over time, what we have are susceptibles. They are in the population. These are the persons who are going to pose a risk if we have an imported case of measles,” said Angela Graham, manager of the Expanded Immunization Programme or EPI.

Cayman currently has a child vaccination rate of ranging in the low 90s over the last several years. But as Clinical Head of Pediatrics, Dr. Chela Lamsee-Ebanks says it still may not be enough.

“We are at 92 per cent and we need to be at 95 per cent to really reduce our risk significantly to say that it is negligent,” said Dr. Lamsee-Ebanks.

Ms. Graham added, “Although 92 per cent and 94 per cent may seem like reasonable coverages. We have a cohort of 8 per cent in each age group that is unimmunized or under-immunized.”

Both health professionals made it clear there is a low level of risk posed by this group, but given measles’ contagious nature, it was still something that should not be ignored.

“Ms. Graham and I was discussing how we were affected by the anti-vaxxers. All of them are not Caymanian. But they come here not wanting to be vaccinated. And that’s a big problem,” said Dr. Lamsee-Ebanks.

“We have a lot of people that come here that want to follow the vaccination schedule of the country they come from . But they are not living in that country,” she continued.

The health professionals said children, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, interact all the time. All it takes is one case of imported measles to spread to the susceptible population.

Both are advising that the public heed the risk and vaccinate their children.

Ms. Graham said the H-S-A has ongoing programmes on to immunize those who still need their full list of shots. She advises that parents call the H-S-A to set up appointments.

More information can be found at their website: www.hsa.ky

About the author

Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs has worked in television, radio and print since 2002, including stints at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT/CNMG), Radio 97, The Trinidad Guardian and Newsday. She has an MA in Media, Communications and Public Relations.

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