Cyprus is failing to vaccinate children in a timely fashion despite high levels of coverage, the health ministry said on Friday.
In a statement to mark World Immunization Week the ministry stressed the importance of timely vaccination of children and the need to complete all doses of vaccines according to the appropriate schedule.
World Immunization Week is a global public health campaign to raise awareness and increase rates of immunisation against vaccine-preventable diseases around the world. It takes place each year during the last week of April.
The goal of World Immunization Week 2018 is to urge greater action on immunisation around the world, with a particular focus on spotlighting the role that everyone can play in this effort, from donors to individuals.
This year’s slogan is: “Protect yourselves and others. Vaccination is everyone’s responsibility”.
The aim, the ministry said, is to stress that the risk of recurrence of infectious diseases and epidemics is present and that it is the duty and responsibility of parents, the medical community and the state to continue to vaccinate all children.
In Cyprus, the health ministry said, citing its latest survey in 2015, vaccination coverage rates among children between 17 and 24-months of age, are high.
“In particular, the percentage of children with the most basic vaccines such as diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-poliomyelitis is 97 per cent and measles-mumps-rubella at 90 per cent,” the ministry said.
At the same time, however, especially with regard to these vaccines, it has transpired that a percentage of children do not receive their vaccine in time, it said.
It added that vaccination is one of the most effective public health interventions and is a valuable human ally against many serious illnesses such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, meningococcal and pneumococcal infections, hepatitis, and other diseases that used to lead to disabilities or even death.
Vaccines today, it said, are no longer limited to the prevention of infectious diseases, but also of other serious diseases such as cervical cancer, ‘a major factor in which is the human papillomavirus, which is significantly prevented by the vaccine’.
In the context of the World Immunization Week various activities have been planned, such as presenting information for parents and children as well as health professionals on the value of vaccination through events in schools. It also includes conferences and the participation of specialists in radio and television broadcasts.