Beating Measles, 1 child at a time
There are currently 9 confirmed cases of measles and all patients have been treated and are recovering. In an effort to prevent any more people from contracting the illness, the Western Cape Department of Health is acting in line with World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Outbreak Response Protocol which advises mass vaccination to the affected areas and surrounds.
Since the beginning of February and especially during the last 12 days, approximately 15 500 learners and children (less than 5 years old) in affected areas in Stellenbosch and vulnerable areas in the Drakenstein, have been vaccinated against measles. This is an average of 1230 children a day. A target of 80% coverage needs to be achieved to create immunity, as of yesterday afternoon a remarkable 78% coverage had already been achieved. All available staff was deployed in these areas, visiting schools, crèches and even going door to door, irrespective of the heat. These dedicated staff members rallied to ensure that vulnerable kids are vaccinated. We are positive that they will achieve the target of 80% by the end of today.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo stated, “I want to thank the many role-players involved in the outbreak response, these include colleagues at Education and private health providers and behind the scenes health staff, for their role in reaching our goal of 80%. However it is the spirit in which the health teams have organised themselves in the last 12 days that is remarkable, it is truly this dedication to community health that makes being part of this department a pleasure.”
When an outbreak is confirmed, the first action is to vaccinate all those who are closest to the point of the outbreak, in this event; these were the learners attending the three high schools in Stellenbosch. The second phase is to vaccinate those situated just outside of the initial outbreak, but who may be at risk of contracting the illness; these are children between 6 – 59 months who live in the Stellenbosch area. During the last two weeks, health teams visited crèches and communities in Stellenbosch and Drakenstein to vaccinate children less than five (59 months) years.
The third measure is to vaccinate children attending primary schools, in the affected areas, this process will start next week and includes all 88 Primary schools in the Drakenstein and Stellenbosch areas, with a total of 52 307 learners to be vaccinated. Parents of primary school children in these areas need to make sure that they sign and return the consent form, allowing us to vaccinate your child.
The last measure to ensure effective coverage is to roll out vaccination to all children less than 5 years old. As from *Monday 20 Feb to 10 March 2017, all children 6 – 59 months in the Western Cape will be immunised by our health teams (*Some areas will start on the 20th, and few will follow on the 27th of Feb, depending on resource availability)
To achieve the 80% coverage and protect our children, everyone needs to work together, parents need to take kids to their clinic or healthcare provider, in addition to this, health teams will visit crèches and communities to ensure that as many children as possible are vaccinated.
Parents and caregivers should note that campaigns such as this measles campaign do NOT replace the routine vaccination and evaluations that your child needs to have. Please keep your child’s Road to Health Booklet handy and remember to take it with you when you visit the clinic or health care provider; parents can also send the booklet along to the crèche, so that the health teams can note the measles booster shot in the booklet.
Please visit our Website for more info on immunisations:
Principal Communications Officer
Western Cape Government Health
Tel: +27 23 348 8100
Cell: 072 8080 106