To coincide with the start of European Immunisation Week, Jersey’s Public Health Department have released latest figures showing very high uptake rates by parents of childhood immunisation in the Island.
Latest annual statistics for 2013 reveal that 98% of babies received their primary set of immunisations at two-, three- and four-months-old, including protection against diseases such as whooping cough and Hib meningitis. Over 95% of one-year-olds received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and more than 93% of children had their pre-school booster vaccine.
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Healthcare Programmes says: “Every child deserves a healthy start in life and we’re extremely pleased that the 2013 figures demonstrate how the vast majority of Jersey parents are choosing to protect their children through immunisation.”
She added “We all know how hectic life is as a parent and it would be easy to put off immunisation. It’s also easy to become complacent and to wonder whether immunisations are still as important. The answer is that without continual high levels of immunisation uptake amongst children, we would eventually see diseases re-emerging in the island. Three years ago we worked with GPs to make pre-school immunisations as accessible as possible for Jersey parents, and the Public Health team try and help busy working parents by sending them reminders when their children’s vaccines are due. These 2013 statistics show that GP practices have been working very hard and that parents are proactively taking steps to protect their child’s health.”
Dr Diggle stressed that even though immunisation uptake in the island is high, there is no room for complacency. “If you have a new baby, immunisations can seem daunting. If parents are at all unsure, we’d encourage them to speak to their GP at the six-week baby check. We also know some surgeries are carrying out surveys and seeking feedback from parents as to the immunisation service they provide. This illustrates how committed the local service is.”
Dr Diggle confirmed that further immunisation changes are planned for the future. “It’s a fact of life that the immunisation schedule needs to change periodically to keep pace with changes in the patterns of disease, also with new evidence and knowledge,” she said. “For example, in January of this year, we added Rotavirus vaccine (given as oral drops) to the immunisation schedule for young babies and, this autumn, those going to UK universities for the first time will be advised to have a booster dose of the Meningitis C vaccine. We’ll be running some publicity nearer the time to remind imminent ‘Freshers’ who are about to start university.”
Parents wishing to know more about the full childhood immunisation schedule can find detailed information at www.gov.je/childrenshealth. Parents can also get a personalised, printable planner of their child’s vaccinations, based on their child’s date of birth at www.nhs.uk/tools/pages/nhsvaccinationplanner.aspx (although parents should note that the NHS schedule of immunisations varies slightly from that given in Jersey). If parents have questions about their child’s immunisations, they can talk to their GP, or may contact Marion Lee, Immunisation Nurse Specialist, on 445790.