ABU DHABI // Vaccines for chickenpox and whooping cough have been added to the emirate's school immunisation schedule.
Pupils in Grade 1 will have to be given both vaccines, while pupils in Grade 11 will have only the vaccine for pertussis (whooping cough) added to their schedule, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (Haad) said yesterday.
There will be no change to the schedule for children in Grade 9.
Haad recorded 11,768 cases of chickenpox last year, up considerably from 7,429 the year before. Over the same period, the number of whooping cough cases dropped from 73 to 39.
About 61,600 public and private pupils in grades 1, 9 and 11 received vaccines last year. Last year, 98 per cent of children in public schools received their vaccines compared with 87 per cent of private pupils.
Of the 8,047 female pupils in Grade 11 who were eligible to receive the human papilloma virus vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer, the disparity was even more noticeable, with 52 per cent of private pupils receiving the three jabs compared with 98 per cent in public schools.
Working alongside the Abu Dhabi Education Council and Seha, the Abu Dhabi health services company, the authority has faced some trouble getting schools and parents on board with the immunisation schedule. However, things are improving, said Dr Farida Al Hosani, manager of the communicable diseases department at Haad.
"We are always looking to reach the whole targeted groups, and ensuring that all the targeted students have received all the required vaccines," she said.