Massive Measles and Polio Immunisation Campaign 2004 | Western Cape Government


Massive Measles and Polio Immunisation Campaign 2004

25 July 2004
The Department of Health would like to urge parents, guardians, caregivers and the general public to bring their children who are under five years of age for immunisation at their nearest clinics or immunisation posts.

The objective of the Department's mass immunisation campaign is to give children booster doses that will provide them with additional protection against polio and measles. This is in line with the goal set by World Health Organisation (WHO) for global polio eradication and measles elimination by 2005.

All children under 5 years of age should be brought for immunisation even if they are up to date with the routine immunisations. Members of the public should take note that the vaccines given during the mass campaigns do not replace the routine childhood immunisation schedule.

There will be two rounds of mass immunisation campaign. The first round will be from 26 July to 6 August 2004 and the second round will be from 30 August to 03 September 2004. All children under 5 years of age will receive oral polio vaccine during the first round and a repeat dose of polio vaccine during the second round. All children from 9 months to under 5 years will receive measles vaccine during the 1st round.

It is important to bring children for both the first and the second round of the polio campaign. To protect children against the poliovirus, polio drops need to be given twice. Children who miss the second round will not be fully protected against the poliovirus.

To render much wider immunity over a wide geographical area, neighbouring countries are to conduct mass immunisation campaigns over the same period of time. South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland will conduct a synchronized mass polio and measles immunisation campaign during the following weeks:

  • 1st Round from 26 July to 6 August 2004 and
  • 2nd Round from 30 August to 03 September 2004

The routine immunisation coverage target for fully immunised children under one year in South Africa is 90%. According to 2003 statistics, the routine immunisation coverage is 82% and measles immunisation coverage is 78%. Both figures are below the set target and thus put the country at a high risk for measles outbreaks and risk of importation of wild poliovirus. The risk is clearly demonstrated by the recent measles outbreaks in Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces in 2003.

The previous mass immunisation campaigns conducted throughout South Africa have shown that we can work together to give our children a future without the burden of polio and measles.

  • The first polio mass campaign was conducted in 1995. About 3,800,000 children were immunised during the first round and 3,300,000 children during the second round.
  • In 1996: During the 1st round 4,800,000 children were given polio vaccine and 7,000,000 children measles. In the 2nd round 4,100,000 children were immunised against polio.
  • In 1997: During the 1st round 4,100,000 children were given polio vaccine and 7,200,000 children measles. In the 2nd round 3,900,000 children were immunised against polio.
  • The last mass immunisation campaign on polio and measles was conducted in 2000. The total number of children immunised for the first round polio was 3,500,211 and 3,807,234 for measles.

Communities in South Africa may have forgotten the crippling effects of Polio because the last wild poliovirus case was detected in 1989. Nigeria, in the African continent, is currently experiencing an increase in the number of wild poliovirus cases. As long as there are still cases of wild poliovirus anywhere in the world, polio can easily be imported and spread within a country that is polio free if all children are not protected through vaccination.

The public can help by ensuring that children in their communities receive all the necessary childhood immunisation vaccines on time.

All children with suspected measles and sudden onset of paralysis are to be taken to the nearest health facility for investigations and treatment.

The National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) would like to urge all health professionals to provide their voluntary assistance in the battle of measles elimination and polio eradication in South Africa, in Africa and in the whole world.

Immunisation campaigns are opportunities that all health workers have of contributing to the well being of all the children of South Africa and their future. To give extra measles and polio immunisations to as many children as possible, at the same time prevents the measles and wild poliovirus from circulating among children.

The slogan for the 2004 polio and measles campaign is:

"Stop Polio! Stop Measles! Immunise!"

Issued by: Sub-Directorate: EPI-SA
National EPI Specialist: Dr N Ngcobo
National EPI Manager: Mr J van den Heever
National Social Mobilisation Manager: Ms B Mabuela
Tel: 012 312 3174/ 0099/ 0111
Fax: 012 312 3110

F. Desai
Western Cape Provincial Government
Tel: 021 483 4266

J. Arendse
Tel: 021 918 1579

M. McCrea

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