We’re good at protecting our babies from serious illness but not quite so good at making sure they stay protected throughout school and the Health department say we need to pull our socks up to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases – like the ones seen recently in the UK.
During this school year 92% of teenagers got jabs to protect them against meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and polio, compared to 98% of babies who got their jabs and the department is worried about the number of secondary school students who haven’t had them.
Community Paediatrician and Clinical Lead for Immunisation Dr Mark Jones: “It’s important that children complete the full vaccination schedule through to adolescence. As children get older, the protection provided by some of the vaccines they had when they were younger can begin to wear off. So they need their protection levels ‘topped up’ by the booster jabs. Older children can also develop risks for certain infections as they enter adolescence.
“Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases in the UK have shown a disturbing trend of so-called ‘childhood diseases’ also affecting teenagers and young adults, sometimes with severe consequences. Together with a growing concern over antibiotic resistance, preventing infections from occurring in the first place is more important than ever.”
School nurses give boosters to about 1,000 local children in Year 9 as well as two doses of the HPV vaccine to around 500 girls in Year 8 every year. From this September all 14-18 year olds will also be offered an extra dose to protect them against meningitis W (Men W) disease.
Head of Healthcare Programmes Dr Linda Diggle said: "Cases of meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal group W bacteria have been rising rapidly in the UK due to a particularly aggressive strain of the Men W bacteria. Although Jersey has, thankfully, not yet experienced any cases of this meningitis strain, it’s important we offer protection to our young people as soon as the vaccine becomes available to us, and hopefully, before cases of disease occur in the island. We’re getting our arrangements in place now so that we’re ready to offer this protection in the autumn, in the same way as is happening in the UK.”
You can find out more about childhood immunisation here.
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