Vaccination gives every child the chance at a healthy life | Western Cape Government


Vaccination gives every child the chance at a healthy life

25 April 2023

Too many children in the Western Cape are being left without protection against measles and other preventable diseases. As a result, the risk of large outbreaks has increased. The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid exposing our children to an infection that may cause them serious harm: childhood immunisaton.

Now more than ever, ensuring that all children are up to date with their routine immunisations is crucial. The upcoming World Immunization Week (24 – 30 April) provides an opportunity for parents and guardians to support childhood immunisation programmes and learn about the direct and indirect benefits of routine inoculation for children. The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness offers routine childhood vaccines to our children without hesitation. These efforts have dramatically improved the quality of life of children in the province over the years.

Given that measles is a preventable disease, it is worrying to see that many eligible minors did not receive their first or second doses of the vaccine during this year’s national measles immunisation campaign. This is worrying for two reasons.

Firstly, an outbreak was declared in the province in February 2023. As of 19 April 2023, a total of 12 laboratory-confirmed measles cases have been reported from the Western Cape, with all of the cases coming from the Cape Metro district. Six of these cases had been vaccinated, while the vaccination status of the remaining six is unknown. The most affected age group is five- to nine-year-olds.

Second, the Cape Metro district with the highest concentration of children has the lowest vaccination rate (39%). As of 20 April 2023, the Western Cape has administered 759 664 measles vaccine doses or 44% of the total eligible population. To stave off future outbreaks and provide greater immunity against severe disease, the province needs the support of parents and guardians so that we can immunise 95% of eligible children against measles this year. The measles shot is freely available to eligible children at clinics across the province.

The Department strongly encourages parents to immunise their children.

“Children continue to experience high levels of infection. This disrupts their schooling, childcare and other activities. When they are sick, their parents need to take time off work to care for them. Getting every eligible child fully vaccinated against measles, tetanus, HPV [human papillomavirus] and other diseases protects our children from severe outcomes. It is not possible to achieve full protection against vaccine-preventable diseases at the population level unless most children are immunised,” said Sonia Botha, the coordinator of the Western Cape’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation.

This year, the Department will continue to double down on its efforts to protect people, especially children, from vaccine-preventable diseases. The annual school-integrated immunisation programme will again provide easy access to life-saving vaccines this year, while primary healthcare facilities will deliver effective immunisation services to children to secure their future and protect our communities.