Protect your children by keeping measles immunisations up to date
Parents of scholars under 15 years of age are reminded that they have until this coming Friday (31 March) to help ensure that their unvaccinated children are protected against measles. This is especially important before the school holiday, as the integrated school health programme comes to an end. The virus is also circulating, and community immunity to measles amongst children remains low.
The province needs the support of parents to ensure children are healthy and thriving as they grow up. The current vaccination rate in the Western Cape is 40% with 11 laboratory confirmed measles cases reported in the province thus far. Five of these cases are from individuals were not vaccinated, while the vaccination status of the remaining six is unknown. Being vaccinated against measles means that should your child become infected, the risk of them getting seriously ill is lower compared to not being vaccinated.
"For any vaccination to effectively work, we need all residents to come together and receive their injections. This is no different when it comes to our children. We thank all of the parents who answered the call to get their children vaccinated. With the vaccination campaign ending this week Friday, I encourage all parents who have not vaccinated their children to do so. Every injection counts and will go a long way in preventing measles from circulating in our communities," urged Minister Nomafrench Mbombo.
To date, we have administered 684 220 MeasBio® (Biovac) vaccines provincially as part of the measles vaccination campaign. In addition, a total of 20 763 measles vaccines have been administered by private pharmacies, clinics and healthcare providers.
Breakdown of measles vaccines administered provincially, as of 28 March 2023:
Cape Metro – 367 825 (33% coverage rate)
Cape Winelands – 119 351 (49% coverage rate)
Central Karoo – 14 792 (71% coverage rate)
Garden Route – 86 432 (54% coverage rate)
Overberg – 39 038 (50% coverage rate)
West Coast – 56 782 (46% coverage rate)
“While the province has good measles surveillance systems to detect, investigate and manage all suspected or confirmed measles cases appropriately, vaccination remains our best defense. With the school holiday approaching, this week is a final opportunity for parents of eligible school-going children to ensure that they are vaccinated against measles conveniently at the schools,” says Sonia Botha, the coordinator of the Western Cape’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation. By being vaccinated, parents and their children can enjoy a safer, more relaxed school holiday.
Valerie Kruger, a school health nurse from Mitchells Plain, appeals to parents to make use of the opportunities to vaccinate their children at schools. “Our integrated school health programme is supported by the education and social development departments as well as parents. The benefit is that parents do not have to miss work because the vaccine is administered at schools. The child does not miss any teaching in the classroom, as we plan our visits with limited interruptions. Please complete the consent forms urgently, if you still would like your child to be vaccinated against measles at the school.”
Through the current national measles campaign, we aim to interrupt measles transmission amongst our communities. Children 6 months to 15 years of age are included for vaccination during the outbreak response and nationwide campaign. Most side-effects from vaccination are minor and quickly disappear. Severe allergic reactions are rare. If any reaction is severe or persistent, or if you are worried about your child, please contact your healthcare worker or doctor.