Some mothers steer clear of polio, measles vaccination

Written Yazeed Kamaldien

Health authorities in the Western Cape say their immunisation against polio and measles campaign is on track but some mothers prefer not getting the medication on offer.

Michelle LeGrange, a Cape Town mother of two children younger than five, told TNA yesterday that she avoided having her children injected with vaccinations because these contain “ingredients that are quite scary.”

“The pharmaceutical industry is a big money making business and they like to manipulate families into vaccinations and scare them. It is wrong that little helpless babies get pumped full of toxins so early in their lives,” she said.

“A lot of children who are vaccinated are very sickly and have lots of allergies. It is important to make sure that your child has a good diet to help boost the immune system.”
Jacqueline Bailey and her two-month-old son Tylo were at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Mowbray at the weekend. Bailey wanted her son immunised but said there were other mothers who preferred not to do so.

“There are some women who don’t take their children to be immunised. They ask why should they take their children. They say they don’t want to sit long at the clinic,” said Bailey.

Sister Thabisa Dibela (right) with Abdel-Malek, 2, and his mother Nabuweeyah Davids at Red Cross Children's Hospital. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Sister Thabisa Dibela (right) with Abdel-Malek, 2, and his mother Nabuweeyah Davids at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Lauren O’Connor, spokesperson for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, said they had not experienced much stigma though.

She said an average 40 children had been immunised daily at the hospital for polio and measles since local health authorities launched an immunisation campaign on April 29. It runs until May 17.

“We have posters up at the hospital and at all clinics. We want to avoid measles infections. We don’t want to miss any child because even one child can infect others.”
Sister Thabisa Dibela, who administered vaccination at the children’s hospital, said they were exerting effort to counter fears that some parents had.

Abdul-Malek Davids, 2, cries as Sister Thabisa Dibela injects a vaccination into his arm. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Abdul-Malek Davids, 2, cries as Sister Thabisa Dibela injects a vaccination into his arm. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

“There was one woman who was scared of immunisation but I explained it to her. I told her that it’s good for her child’s health,” said Dibela.
Sithembiso Magubane, spokesperson for the provincial health department, said their province-wide immunisation campaign was on track. While round one ends on May 17, a second immunisation campaign will run June 17 to 28.

“The department’s target is 95% of children under five years and currently we have immunised 50% of the targeted children for this first round. We are immunising at all primary health care facilities,” said Magubane.

“We are not receiving so much resistance but only from people who were not well or who are uninformed. The health department has regular interaction and is engaging with communities. We have a media campaign that consists of radio talks and announcements, poster distribution and face-to-face discussions with parents and caregivers. We are targeting all registered and unregistered crèches.”

Two-month-old Tylo Bailey was immunised at Red Cross Children's Hospital. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Two-month-old Tylo Bailey was immunised at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Heideveld resident Melissa Everts and her son Mason, 2, who were also at the hospital to be immunised, said church groups were also involved in the campaign.

“I heard about the campaign at church. There will also be immunisation done at the church,” said Everts.
“There is awareness about this in our community. There are nurses who drive around in a car with a loud speaker and tell people about the immunisation taking place. In my circle of friends, our children come first.”

Aasiyah Adams, a mother whose child is almost three years old, said she had her son immunised though after she found “horrific stories of disability and deaths of parents who refuse to have their kids immunised.”

It has been reported that misperceptions around immunisation in the United Kingdom has already led that country on the brink of a measles outbreak last month. This was a result of parents’ fears that vaccinations could lead to autism.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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