Vaccines bring us closer and save lives
While residents of the Western Cape eagerly look forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, it is vitally important that they find ways to continue supporting routine immunisation programmes in their communities. Many children have not been vaccinated during the pandemic, leaving them at risk of serious diseases like measles and polio.
Themed ‘Vaccines bring us closer’, World Immunisation Week (24 – 30 April) aims to build solidarity and trust in vaccination as a public good that saves lives and protects health. All vaccines being used are tested many times to ensure safety and created to check for any common side effects. Safety monitoring is being carefully rolled out alongside vaccines globally, and all serious side-effects are reviewed by independent scientists from multiple medicine safety agencies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends annual flu vaccination for high-risk population groups. These include pregnant women, children aged between 6 months and 5 years, people older than 65 years, those with chronic medical conditions such as HIV, heart or lung problems, and healthcare workers.
The Western Cape Department of Health provides successful immunisation programmes available at no cost at its primary healthcare facilities. Those who are eligible can access vaccines through the Expanded Programme on Immunisation for babies under 24 months, the school-based vaccination programme for boys and girls over the age of 9, and flu vaccination programme for members of the public. These programmes continue to protect beneficiaries against diseases such as bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, rotavirus diarrhoea, human papillomavirus (HPV), tetanus and diphtheria (Td), polio, Tuberculosis (TB), and others.
As health systems in the province continue to strain under the weight of COVID-19, the Department appeals to parents and caregivers to help ensure that the uptake of vaccines do not drop.
- If parents and caregivers have questions about vaccines, the vaccine schedule outlined in the Road to Health booklet, or how to catch up if their child did not start receiving vaccines during the pandemic, they can speak to a healthcare worker or make an appointment at the clinic.
- As part of the provincial COVID-19 Phase 2 vaccination rollout commencing on 17 May, residents over 60 years of age are encouraged to register online on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (ECDS) and follow the instructions.
High-risk population groups are encouraged to get the flu vaccine at their local clinic, or at private facilities through medical aid or out of pocket.
Byron la Hoe
Cell: 072 368 0596