20 April 2015
To coincide with the start of European Immunisation Week, Jersey’s Public Health Department is taking the opportunity to remind parents of the importance of their children completing the childhood vaccination schedule through to secondary school.
Secondary school age children are offered booster injections to ensure their continued protection against infections that can cause meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and polio when they are in Year 9 at school. The uptake rate for 2014/15 was 92%. This figure is high but it’s still lower than the uptake rate for baby immunisations which is at 98%.
Community Paediatrician and Clinical Lead for Immunisation, Dr Mark Jones, said "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."
Vital role of school nurses
Dr Jones confirmed the vital role that school nurses play in ensuring teenagers are offered immunisations, with around 1,000 per year receiving booster vaccinations in Year 9 children, as well as their role in identifying children that have moved into the island and ensuring their vaccinations are up to date.
Head of Healthcare Programmes, Dr Linda Diggle, said that immunisation changes are planned for the secondary school immunisation schedule from September.
"It’s a fact of life that the immunisation schedule needs to change periodically to keep pace with changes in the patterns of disease and to protect against new disease threats. For example, this year all 14 - 18 year olds in Jersey will be offered a vaccination to prevent meningitis W (Men W) disease after a rapid rise in the number of cases in the UK."