Senior Medical Officer of Health (South) Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand (FP)

As part of its continued thrust to protect the well-being of this island’s children, the Ministry of Health, through its Expanded Programme on Immunisation, has introduced the chicken pox vaccine into its regular childhood schedule.?? This is in response to intermittent outbreaks of the disease, which have been noted over the past few years.

According to Senior Medical Officer of Health (South) Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, the vaccine had been added to the regular immunization schedule and was available from Monday, July 2, at polyclinics across the island for babies from age 15 months. It is designed to prevent persons from contracting Varicella-zoster, the virus that causes chicken pox.

Dr. Ferdinand also explained that two workshops were held last week to sensitise and train staff at the polyclinics on the correct way to store and administer the vaccine.????

Adverse reactions to the vaccination may include pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection for one to two days, fever, fatigue, headache and joint pain. In rare cases, a skin rash may develop.

Children are more susceptible to contracting chicken pox.?? Symptoms may include an itchy rash or blisters of the skin and mucus membrane, which may also lead to scarring.?? A small percentage of persons who contract the disease may also go on to develop shingles, usually in later life.?? The chicken pox virus is very contagious.?? It is spread through coughing, sneezing and direct or indirect contact with fluids from lesions.

Outbreaks of chicken pox often lead to disruption of work or school attendance, as affected persons need to stay at home until the lesions have cleared.?? It is, therefore, expected that the introduction of the vaccine will reduce the number of children who contact chicken pox each year. The only way to effectively prevent the spread of the chicken pox virus is to be vaccinated.


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