Jamaica urges travellers to be wary of measles

The Ministry of Health has advised people leaving Jamaica to ensure they are adequately protected when visiting countries known to have circulating measles virus.

“At this time of year when Jamaicans are preparing for travel overseas, the ministry is reminding citizens to ensure that they – and in particular their children are fully vaccinated against measles, with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine,” the ministry said.

It noted that, as at 17 May 2019, some countries that have reported confirmed cases of measles were: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, USA, Uruguay, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Since the recent breakout of measles in the Region of the Americas, there has been no case of measles in Jamaica, the ministry said.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, said: “Measles is a highly contagious viral disease affecting mainly children. Infection spreads rapidly even before symptoms are evident, and therefore has the potential to cause outbreaks.

“Vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread of measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed to provide full protection against the disease,” she further said.

The health ministry stated that Jamaica has prioritized MMR vaccination for children 10 years old and younger, adding that it provides vaccines free of cost to children.

People over 40 years old are likely to be immune to measles, considering that the virus would have been circulating in Jamaica during their childhood, and several measles vaccination campaigns would have been done to protect the population at that time.

Persons who are unsure of their vaccination status should contact their healthcare provider or visit a health centre, the health ministry said.

It added that persons who develop a fever and rash – especially after visiting a country known to have measles cases, must contact their healthcare provider or visit a health centre immediately.

Meanwhile, the health ministry reminded persons travelling to countries known to have circulating yellow fever virus that vaccination against yellow fever is a requirement for travel.

The yellow fever vaccine is provided at a cost at the Montego Bay Type V Health Centre in St James, and at the Slipe Pen Road Comprehensive Health Centre in Kingston.


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