As part of the measles immunisation drive, various provincial departments are working around the clock to ensure that children under the age of 15 are protected against this serious viral infection in youngsters.
The Department of Health, working closely with the sister departments of Basic Education and Social Development, provinces and various stakeholders have embarked on a nationwide child immunisation campaign to vaccinate children at schools, early childhood development centres and other public places.
According to the department, schools have been issuing consent forms to learners for parents and caregivers to sign to enable health workers to immunise learners.
“No learner will be immunised until his or her parents or legal guardian has given permission through signing a consent form, and parents are strongly encouraged to provide this consent.”
Last year the Department of Health confirmed that there is a measles outbreak in South Africa.
Measles is highly contagious and is caused by a virus which mainly spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets from infected persons when coughing or sneezing.
The majority of the infected people are between the ages of one and 15, hence the campaign targets all children between six months and 15 years.
The Department of Health stated that unimmunised children are at the highest risk of contracting measles and infecting other classmates and household members.
Measles symptoms include fever, red eyes, runny nose and cough, typically appearing before the onset of the disease’s characteristic rash.
Although often mild and self-limiting, some people, especially young children and pregnant women may develop complications such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, ear infections and eye complications resulting in admission to hospital and in severe cases death.
Another important vaccination is for HPV. The HPV vaccine protects girls from developing cervical cancer later in life.
The department has stressed that the measles and HPV vaccines are safe and effective.
Measles vaccines are free of charge at public health facilities, whilst HPV vaccination is offered to Grade 5 girl learners aged nine and older in public schools through the school-based campaign. – SAnews.gov.za