Parents are urged to have their children vaccinated

Inoculations protect against infections, Ministry of Health reminds parents in the UAE, many of whom remain worried about possible side effects.

DUBAI // A new campaign will target parents who fail to see the importance of vaccinating their children.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children be vaccinated against 10 diseases, but officials say there are still many in the UAE who neglect to do so.

They say there is concern among some parents about the possible side-effects of vaccinations.

"We want to change the attitude that parents have towards vaccinations and inform them about how and when their children should be inoculated," said Dr Ali Shakar, the president of the Emirates Medical Association (EMA). "Parents can be safe in the knowledge that vaccination is a procedure that actually strengthens their immune systems."

Pro-Kids was launched by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the EMA yesterday to reduce the incidence of diseases among schoolchildren.

Although certain immunisations are part of the national programme - including measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jabs - parents can choose to decline or delay their children's immunisation.

"Some parents refuse to give these vaccinations and we are keen to emphasise their importance," said Dr Ali Marzoorqi, the director of Public and Safety at the Dubai Health Authority.

The World Health Organisation recommends vaccinations against diseases including whopping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, meningitis and hepatitis A. The Pro-Kids campaign will educate parents about vaccinations, telling them how and where children can receive inoculations, by distributing pamphlets in malls and visiting schools to spread the word.

Ali Maihad al Suwaidi, the director general of the MOE, said he hopes the initiative will stem the spread of illnesses - many of which are easily communicable to children because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

"Children mingle with others at school, so we want to ensure that they are protected from infections," he said.

For more information about the diseases for which vaccinations should be taken, parents can call the Pro-Kids helpline on 800 42212.