Vaccine warrior

HAVING survived a near-death experience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer Kaydia Levien-McKoy knows well the truism ‘prevention is better that cure’, and she is not taking any chance with her only child.

Levien-McKoy has ensured that her now seven-year-old daughter has received all the recommended vaccinations, at the recommended time, and she is urging other parents to do the same.

“She is my only child. I cannot have anymore so anything to protect her, I will do,” declared Levien-McKoy at the latest Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange on September 4.

“I remember when I was growing up and not being vaccinated; I remember when I got mumps and they had to tie up my face… and then the chicken pox. I can’t let my daughter go through that. I have to protect my daughter, and that is why I ensure all the time [that she is fully vaccinated],” added Levien-McKoy.

She told Observer editors and reporters that recently she took her daughter to the paediatrician for her regular check-up and the child asked the doctor when is her next vaccination as she is usually afraid of the needle. The child was told that her next vaccination was not until she reached age 10.

“And she checked eight, nine, 10 because she is not a big fan of it…but I make sure that all the time that she is vaccinated,” said Levien-McKoy.

She pointed out that her brother and sister have opted not to have their school-aged children vaccinated, despite her encouragement. “They don’t believe in it.”

According to Levien-McKoy, while she believes that there is no vaccination to prevent people from developing cancer, she is very health-conscious as a breast cancer survivor.

“And if there is anything that I can do to protect myself and my family, then I will do it. I will advocate for people to get their children vaccinated but they don’t want to listen,” added Levien-McKoy in reference to her siblings.

Children in Jamaica must be vaccinated against preventable diseases, including small pox, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, tetanus (lock jaw), diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.

Under the law, children must be adequately immunised before they start school.