Polio and measles immunisation campaign on track

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cape Town mothers have responded positively to the government’s nationwide polio and measles immunisation campaign but believe that not enough parents know about it.

The campaign, targeting children younger than five years old, was launched on April 29. It is a free service to the public, with health care workers immunising children at various crèches and government health facilities.

Abigail Walters from Kuilsriver said her three-year-old son was immunised at Step Ahead Educare crèche which he attends daily during the week.

“There was a note in my son’s message book from the health department, explaining the whole process of immunisation and also (asking) for parent’s consent. My son got his immunisation during school hours,” said Walters.

Maxine Greeff, a mother of two daughters aged five and two, said her children had previously “gone through vaccination at state and private clinics.”

“We went through the private clinic system and we got even more vaccinations that was not on the vaccination schedule. My children have gone through all of them. It’s worth it,” said Greeff.

“I have little girls and I don’t want them to get diseases that can be prevented. Some children have a reaction to vaccination but we are warned about that. It can be treated.”

Both mothers agreed that not enough parents they spoke to know about the immunisation campaign.

Walters said parents whose children are not at crèche facilities would likely “not know about it unless they take their kids to the local clinic.”

“There are notices about immunisation posted everywhere inside clinics,” she said.

Greeff agreed: “Moms who take their children to clinics for regular check ups at clinics would have been informed about this. But I don’t think the public is aware of this campaign.”

“I don’t think we would have found out about the campaign if the crèche didn’t tell us. I do read the local community newspaper though and that’s a good place to get information about this.”

Faranaaz Tape-Jacobs said her three-year-old daughter was immunised at Darul Hikma creche in Mitchell’s Plain. She also said without local media, many parents would also miss out on the campaign.

“I don’t think that the public is aware of the campaign because none of the people I spoke to that has young children knew about the campaign. I know about it because a nurse came to my daughter’s crèche to tell us about it,” said Tape-Jacobs.

The national campaign is divided into two rounds of immunisation. Round one will cover polio and measles immunisation until May 17.

The second round will cover only polio immunisation between June 17 and 28.

The national health department said during this campaign it would “educate the public about polio and measles eradication.”

It said it would also “develop capacities of vaccinators, supervisors and other health workers involved in the campaign.”

In the Western Cape, city and provincial health departments are jointly conducting the campaign.

Councillor Lungiswa James, mayoral committee member for health at the City of Cape Town, said “children would be immunised even if all their routine immunisations are up to date.”

“This will prevent the wild polio virus from circulating. A child is only fully protected against polio if he or she receives drops twice, four weeks apart… Children not attending crèches should be taken to their nearest clinic for their immunisation” said James.

The city’s health department described measles as a “highly infectious illness that spreads from person to person by droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

“It can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, blindness, encephalitis (brain infection) or even death.”

Polio meanwhile is an “infectious disease affecting the nervous system that can result in permanent paralysis, deformity and sometimes death.

“A person with polio cannot be cured because the nerve cells destroyed by the virus never recover their function.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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