Immunisation/vaccination protects adults and children from dangerous but preventable diseases. The World Health Organisation says immunisation saves 3 million lives a year.
What is immunisation?
The Department of Health strongly advises mothers to protect their children from infectious diseases by getting them vaccinated from birth to when they are 12 years old. Vaccination is free of charge at all health facilities. The Department also runs immunisation campaigns and health workers are sent to nursery schools and creches to immunise the children.
Immunisations are safe. Although side effects following immunisations do occur, they are usually mild and clear up quickly. Contact your clinic for advice if you are concerned.
What diseases do children get vaccinated against?
Polio is caused by germs (polioviruses), which attack nerves, causing weakness or paralysis of the leg and/or arm and if severe, may involve respiratory or breathing muscles.
Measles causes high fever and a rash and can lead to diarrhoea and dehydration, deafness, eye complications, pneumonia, brain damage and even death.
Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib) is a serious illness that affects mainly children under the age of five years, and death from Hib disease is common in children under the age of one. Some die of the child mage or paralysis.
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver, which can cause liver damage, liver cancer and death.
Pertussis (whooping cough) starts with a headache, fever and cough. The strenuous coughing bouts make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe.
Tetanus (lock jaw) occurs when a toxin produced by a tetanus germ from the soil enters a cut or wound. The germ can cause muscle spasms, breathing and heart problems, and death. The chances of dying from this condition are very high.
Diphtheria is a dangerous bacterial disease, which makes it difficult to breathe. Children who survive diphtheria disease suffer permanent damage such as blindness, deafness and brain damage.
Tuberculosis (TB) Meningitis is a serious disease that can affect people of all ages. Those that get TB suffer from coughing for a long period of time, chest pain, sweating at night, weight loss and even death if left untreated. In young children, the TB germ may infect the brain and cause meningitis, or it could also enter the blood and spread to other parts of the body. TB can kill young people. The best protection for young children for diseases caused by the TB germ is the BCG vaccine.
Usually babies who were not given the BCG vaccine at birth will be immunised when they are taken to the clinic for the next immunisation visit, at six weeks of age. Any baby under one year who did not get the BCG vaccine at birth must be taken to the nearest clinic, where the vaccine will be given. Babies infected with HIV, who are sick and showing sign of AIDS must NOT get the BCG vaccine.
The Department also vaccinates against Rotavirus (one of the viruses that cause diarrhoea) and Pneumococcal disease (eg meningitis, otitis media, pneumonia, bacteraemia).
When must children be vaccinated?
You can download the full periodic programme for immunisations below.
These facility categories:
|Government Body:||(Western Cape Government)|
All the vaccines in the routine schedule are free of charge at all primary health care facilities and centres.
- Child Developmental Screening and Growth Monitoring (Service)
- Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) (Service)
- Intradermal BCG Immunisation (Public Information) (File type: pdf; size: 278.11 KB)
- Measles - Fact Sheet (Public Information) (File type: pdf; size: 171.59 KB)