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Vaccinations save lives

Vaccinating children is the best way to prevent serious illnesses, such as polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles and tetanus. This is according to Dr Vuyo Gqola, Government Employees Medical Scheme Executive: Healthcare Management.

“When people get vaccinated against a particular disease, they are not only protecting themselves, but are also helping to protect their communities,” Dr Gqola says.

“This is because the more people who are immune to a disease, the slower it spreads.”

Vaccinations make sense

Dr Gqola says the medical progress that has been made in the prevention of diseases through vaccinations is truly remarkable.

Measles and polio are now relatively uncommon thanks to vaccination programmes.

Smallpox is a highly infectious viral disease. It was deadly for a large proportion of the people who contracted it. 

“Through global vaccination efforts, naturally-occurring smallpox was eliminated in 1977 with the last case having been diagnosed in Somalia,” says Dr Gqola.

In 2014, the South African Department of Health rolled out a school–based human papillomavirus (HVP) vaccination campaign for the prevention of cervical cancer, aimed at all girls aged nine years and older in grade four.

“There is an established link between certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer, which is a leading cause of death for women in South Africa,” Dr Gqola says.

“The girls who have received the HPV vaccine will have a considerably reduced risk of developing cervical cancer and several other types of cancer.

“We are likely to start seeing the positive impact of this campaign in the next 15 to 20 years, when the first generation of girls to have received the HPV vaccination will reach the age where these types of cancer are more likely to develop.

“The risks associated with vaccinations are extremely rare, and are hugely outweighed by the risks of developing the disease itself if one is not vaccinated,” Dr Gqola says.   

Don't wait ... vaccinate

Baby and childhool vaccinations

Birth

Oral Polio and BCG

6 to 8 weeks

Oral Polio and BCG

10 to 12 weeks

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B and Inactivated Polio, Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal Conjugated

14 to 16 weeks

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B and Inactivated Polio, Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal Conjugated

9 months

Measles

12 months

Hepatitis A, Pneumococcal Conjugated

15 to 18 months

Measles, Mumps, Rubella

18 months

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis Haemophilus influenzae type B and Inactivated Polio Hepatitis A (booster)

6 years

Measles, Mumps, Rubella Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis and Inactivated Polio

12 years

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (if missed at 6 years) Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis and Inactivated Polio (if missed at 6 years)

 

Source: Government Employees Medical Scheme