17 February 2017 Fazeena Saleem
Qatar has not recorded any case of whooping cough — a highly contagious respiratory disease — among adolescents for the last ten years, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
The disease has been eliminated due to the effective national vaccination programme implemented in the country, said Dr Hamad Eid Al Rumaihi, Director, Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control Department at the MoPH, yesterday. “Our aim is to keep Qatar safe from infectious disease, and in the past ten years we didn’t register any case of pertussis (whooping cough) among adolescents,” he said.
However, two cases of pertussis were recorded last year among children below one year.
“Last year we had two cases among children below one year and these cases had a travel history from outside Qatar,” said Dr Al Rumaihi speaking on the sidelines of a workshop held related to upcoming Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap) national school vaccination campaign for students in the tenth grade.
The seventh annual Tdap campaign will begin on Sunday aiming at vaccinating 8,000 students in Independent and private schools. “We are conducting this campaign in collaboration with Ministry of Education and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC). The campaign is on the seventh year. Our aim to sustain a strong national vaccination programme for children and keep them safe from infections,” said Dr Al Rumaihi.
As per international data, about 40 percent of cases of pertussis are among adolescents between the age of 11 and 18 years. The Tdap vaccine is a recommendation by the World Health Organisation to preventing the disease. The Tdap vaccine covering tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis provides at least ten years protection from the diseases. The dose that will be administered to the students is considered one of the routine adolescence vaccinations and is part of the routine vaccination schedule in the country, says Dr Soha Al Bayat, Head of Vaccination Unit, Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control Department at the MoPH.
“We are having such a campaign because every vaccine has its time-bound efficacy. When a child reaches adolescent age the immune level induced by the vaccine given at childhood becomes weak. In case any adolescent catches the virus, it won’t show any symptoms but they have the chances of transmitting it to a family member who is at a younger age and or lacks immunity to the diseases,” she said.
Unlike other vaccination campaigns, doctors and nurses from the MoPH and PHCC will visit schools to vaccinate students. “We have sent letters to parents seeking their consent to vaccinate children. So if parents reject we won’t vaccinate the child. The more parents will cooperate, the more we will be able to protect children,” said Dr Al Bayat.
© The Peninsula 2017