Support the Western Cape school-based vaccination programme
From 20 February until 31 March 2023, the Western Cape Department of Health’s School-based vaccination programme will once again visit schools to provide integrated immunisation aimed at reducing vaccine preventable diseases.
School health nurses will be visiting all public and special schools in the province to administer the routinely recommended human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, as well as the measles vaccine. This is part of our commitment to ensure healthy and thriving children as they grow up. The HPV vaccine is being offered to girls in Grade 5 over the age of nine years, and the measles vaccine to boys and girls under the age of 15.
The HPV vaccine protects against the most common causes of cervical and some other cancers. Two doses are needed for the best protection. These are given on two different days, five months apart.
“As a mother, I have full confidence in the HPV vaccine for girls. It was the best decision that I could take for my daughter to receive a vaccine which prevents cancer,” said Abigail Adonis from Swellendam, who provided consent for HPV vaccination in 2020.
The World Health Organization (WHO) approved that the measles vaccine can safely be co-administered with other childhood vaccines from 9 months of age. Through the ongoing measles campaign, we aim to interrupt measles transmission amongst our communities. Children 6 months to 15 years of age are included for vaccination during the outbreak response and nationwide campaign.
Since the beginning of the year, schools have been issuing consent forms so that parents and caregivers can sign to enable nurses to vaccinate eligible learners. No learner will be vaccinated unless his or her parents or legal guardian has given permission through signing a consent form. Parents are strongly encouraged to provide this consent.
“I wanted the measles booster for protection and if I get measles, then it will not be so bad,” said Yushra Jacobs (14) from Hanover Park, who received her vaccine in February 2023.
“Providing these vaccines at schools is one of the best ways to protect your child and the community from diseases which can cause severe illness. This eliminates many barriers, including travel and time demands for parents who often need to accompany their children to the clinic, thereby increasing accessibility. We hope to boost vaccine acceptability by providing access to trusted sources of information via school nurses or other officials, to meaningfully engage parents and address their concerns,” says Sonia Botha, the coordinator of the Western Cape’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation.
Most side-effects from vaccination are minor and quickly disappear. Severe allergic reactions are rare. If any reaction is severe or persistent, or if you are worried about your child, contact your healthcare worker or doctor.