Thanking our health workers during World Immunisation Week
As World Immunisation Week (24 April to 30 April) is commemorated globally, the Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) would like to thank all frontline health workers who work tirelessly to protect people from vaccine preventable diseases. Promoting the use of free immunisation services offered by primary health care facilities has always been a high priority.
As the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to spread, the WCGH has taken steps to providing free flu vaccinations to health workers, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised residents. Although the flu vaccine does not protect a person against contracting Covid-19, it may help ensure that the immune system is not weakened, particularly for vulnerable patients. Those who the WCGH has prioritised to receive the flu vaccinations are persons over the age of 65 and who suffer from cardiovascular and chronic lung diseases. In the coming weeks, pregnant women and people living with HIV will be considered for vaccination. The flu vaccine is safe and the best time to get vaccinated is before the start of winter.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines save between 2 to 3 million lives around the world every year. Many millions more are protected from the suffering and disability associated with diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, and polio. This year, the WHO campaign focuses on vaccines and the people who develop, deliver and receive them. During the national Covid-19 response, it has become evident that our health workers are heroes.
The WCGH is proud to provide successful immunisation programmes across the province. These include the Expanded Programme on Immunisation for babies under 24 months, and the school-based vaccination programme against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and tetanus and diphtheria (Td). These programmes continue to give every child the chance at a healthy life and have resulted in a significant decrease in childhood mortality rates.
As part of Covid-19 social distancing measures in place, WCGH health facilities are providing the vaccinations through outreaches such as: providing it at old-age homes and administer it when home deliveries of chronic medication are done. Those vulnerable groups who have appointments at facility will receive theirs when honouring their appointments.
The WCGH will continue to double down on its efforts to protect people from vaccine preventable diseases. World Immunisation Week is a fitting period for remembering those health workers who administer the vaccines; address misinformation about the safety of or need for vaccines; work with parents to give consent; and who symbolise that #VaccinesWork for all.
Byron La Hoe
Western Cape Government Health
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