Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh

Rishard Khan

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Children in T&T are at risk of mumps, measles, and rubella outbreaks as vaccine coverage for the category drops below herd immunity level amidst the pandemic.

Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, noted on Wednesday that while cases have not yet been detected locally, the dwindling coverage “is one of very, very deep concern.”

With physical school closure by the pandemic, the ministry previously warned parents not to falter on immunizing their children for diseases such as those mentioned.

Children aren’t allowed into primary schools without these vaccines. However, coupled with the increasing “anti-vax” sentiment being generated by the pandemic, the minister revealed the warning was not heeded.

“We have seen a significant drop in the number of children accessing the Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR) vaccines. We are now down to 83 and 85 per cent. Herd immunity for that is 95 per cent,” he said.

“We want to prevent an outbreak of Mumps, Measles and Rubella and all other childhood diseases like Yellow Fever. Yellow Fever, we are down to 85 per cent (coverage).”

He said this is an issue being experienced globally with some territories already witnessing a reemergence of the diseases.

“We’re appealing to parents of…primary school-aged children who are not vaccinated as they would have been to get into schools, even though those primary schools are not yet open, let us rally around our children and make sure we don’t expose them to Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Yellow Fever or Polio or any other of the childhood vaccines that we normally give our children freely and without much thinking,” he said.

Deyalsingh said information on these vaccinations will be incorporated into the ministry’s enhanced community outreach and education campaign for COVID-19 which will soon be rolled out.