Mass Immunisation Campaign Kicks Off
Mr Theuns Botha, Western Cape Minister of Health, will officiate the provincial Mass Polio and Measles Campaign kick-off in Zwelethemba in Worcester tomorrow (30 April 2013). Dr Helise Schumann, Director: Eden and Central Karoo Districts visited Juweeltjie Crèche in Mossel Bay today to officiate the campaign in Eden.
Western Cape Government Health is providing free polio immunisations to children 0 to 59 months and measles immunisations to children nine to 59 months. 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.
Children attending crèche will be immunised at their crèches and therefore parents are asked to complete and return consent forms obtained from the schools. Parents whose children are not at crèche should take their children to the local clinic or a health facility for immunisation.
Minister Botha said: "We encourage our mothers and child carers to take their babies to the nearest clinic for the measles and polio immunisations. In this way we protect our children against these debilitating diseases and ensure a healthy future for them. It is when you take responsibility to help your children that government can help you. We are better together."
During the campaign 162 crèches in the Eden District will be visited. Each crèche is allocated to a different clinic that is responsible for immunising children at the crèche. Immunisations will take place in two rounds, with the first round from 29 April to 17 May 2013 for measles and polio and the second round from 17 to 28 June 2013 for polio only.
The targets for the campaign are 95% of the child population for measles and 90% for polio. Parents and caregivers are urged to bring their children for immunisation even if they have received all their measles and polio vaccine doses.
What is measles?
Measles is the most dangerous of all childhood diseases. The first sign is a high fever followed by a blotchy red rash all over the body. It is also accompanied by coughing, a runny nose and red eyes. Measles can cause dangerous complications, such as infection of the lungs, blindness and death.
What causes measles?
Measles is caused by a very small germ called the measles virus. It cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is spread when a child with measles coughs or sneezes. Children who suffered from measles cannot get it a second time. Most children who have been immunised against measles at the right age will not get measles.
Why is measles a dangerous disease?
Young children who survive measles are weakened by the disease and may later die from malnutrition or other illnesses. Measles is also an important cause of mental retardation and blindness. A quarter of all deaths from measles occur before the age of one. Measles in older children usually occur as outbreaks when large groups of children get measles at the same time. The risk of a measles outbreak is higher when groups of children gather together, for example in crèches, daycare centres and schools.
It is important to bring children for the extra measles injection during the campaign. Children who miss the immunisation campaign might not be fully protected against the measles virus.
What is polio?
Polio is a crippling disease. It is caused by a very small germ called the polio virus. Polio can lead to permanent lameness, deformity and even death.
How will I recognise polio in a child?
Polio can be suspected when there is sudden weakness of the leg or arm or both, or other parts of the body. This weakness should not have been present at birth. If the person was injured just before the weakness or the person has a history of being mentally retarded, then polio is not likely to be the cause of the weakness.