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Vaccinating your child

Health Care 18 Apr, 2024 Follow News

Dr. Madisa

Dr. Stone

The Caymanian Times continues its valuable Monday Health & Wellness series this week focussing on the importance of having your child properly vaccinated. OceanMed’s Dr Segomotso Madisa, Consultant Paediatrician, and Dr David Stone, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, share some invaluable advice on the subject.

Dr Madisa advises that the vaccines that are recommended for children to receive are based on the Cayman Islands Childhood Immunisation Schedule.   The recommendations are from children from birth all the way up to 16 - 18 years of age.

“It is important to get vaccinated to prevent diseases such as Hepatitis B,  Polio, Measles, Rubella, Petussis, to name but a few, some of which have been eradicated from the world and thus not being a burden on the health care systems,” she advises.

Children in the Cayman Islands can get vaccinated at their paediatrician’s or family doctor’s offices and at several Public Health Clinics in the Islands.

There is one particular vaccine which is very important for both boys and girls to be given because it can prevent the development of cancer in later life.  Dr Stone gives some further insight on the HPV vaccine.

Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is a virus that can cause infection by entering into cells in your body and taking operational control to make more viral copies.  These copies then infect nearby cells and so on, leading to diseases like genital warts, precancer infection, and certain types of cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penis and oral/throat). Fortunately, HPV infection is a slow process. Progression to cancer can take years to emerge and in most people the immune system can rid the body of HPV before it causes diseases.

“The HPV vaccine is the safest and most effective way to boost your immune system so diseases will not occur,” he advises.

Children should be offered the vaccine by age 11-12 years in two doses given 6-12 months apart.  They can be given the vaccine as early as 9 years of age. Children who start the HPV vaccine series on or after age 15 require three doses, given over 6 months. Even though this vaccine is given to young people, adults can also get vaccinated.

“Everyone up the age of 45 years should get the HPV vaccine (three doses over 6 months) if they have not fully vaccinated,” he states.

The HPV vaccination is so important because it has been shown to prevent cancer-causing infections and precancers.

Since the HPV vaccines were first implemented in the United States (2006), there has been an 88 percent drop amongst cases of teen girls with HPV infection that cause cancer and genital warts; they have seen 81 percent drop among young adult women for the same related HPV infections; and among vaccinated women, incidence of cervical precancers (abnormal pap smears) caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent.

Dr Stone advises that all women should have a check-up annually or at least every 12 -18 months.  The age to commence annual examines may depend on the individual’s health status but usually at age 21, regardless of whether she is sexually active or not, he explains.

This check-up should include vital signs, urine assessment, a history intake to screen for any problems and review any studies done or need to be done, a physical exam including a breast and pelvic exams, and when indicated, a pap smear with HPV testing (beginning age 25years), pelvic strength assessment, and pelvic transvaginal sonogram. Annual exams have been shown to be an effective preventative and early detection method for women for a variety of gynaecological and non-gynaecological conditions. Annual exam can be conducted by a gynaecologist or a qualified general practitioner or internist (internal medicine).

“Remember, the HPV vaccination is for both boys and girls, for both men and women.  The available Gardasil-9 vaccine can help protect against HPV infections linked to cancer of the anus, cervix, mouth (oral), penis, throat, and vagina as well as genital warts,” he says.

Adults should get the HPV vaccine and parents should have their children vaccinated accordingly to convey a lifetime of immunity against some very serious diseases.  So, contact your health care provider or the Health Services Authority at hsa.ky to get scheduled. OceanMed offers HPV vaccines for adults and children.

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