Routine vaccination is key to children’s health

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department is encouraging parents to ensure their children’s vaccinations are up to date as the new school year kicks off. Read more below:

‘Parents can help prevent their children from contracting certain infectious childhood diseases or lessen their severity, by ensuring that their vaccinations are up to date. The new school year is upon us and the City wants to help learners miss as few school days as possible due to illness.

‘City clinics offer vaccinations that provide protection against some of the most common infectious childhood diseases. By the time a child goes to school, they should have had all the routine vaccinations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B and Measles as per South Africa’s Extended Programme for Immunisation (EPI)schedule. These vaccinations are all free at clinics. I encourage parents to keep track of their children’s vaccination status, and if they have any questions, to approach their local clinic,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross.

If your child is not up to date, they can still get the vaccinations. It’s never too late to vaccinate and you can discuss this with the health care worker at the clinic.

Catch-up is different for the various vaccines. You will need your ID, the birth certificate of your child, and the Road to Health Booklet (RTHB).

If you don’t have these documents, do take your child to the clinic anyway.

If you’ve lost the Road to Health book, inform the Health Care Worker so that a copy of the Road to Health Booklet can be issued.

Over the past 6 months we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of children with pertussis and measles. Both these diseases are highly contagious and are spread by close contact with an infected person, particularly through the air.

Young infants are at the highest risk for severe disease with pertussis, as they are too young to be immunised themselves (the first pertussis immunisation dose is given at six weeks of age). Sadly, seven infants, all under the age of two months died as a result of pertussis.

Pertussis usually presents with a blocked or runny nose ,sneezing, sore throat, no or minimal fever and a dry cough that worsens after a few days, the typical whooping sound.

Babies may not cough, but they may struggle to breath, or stop breathing and have a bluish discolouration of the skin.

Parents and caregivers should take the child that has these symptoms to the clinic or Community Health Centre without delay.

Since October 2022 there has been an increase in the number of Measles cases in the Western Cape.

Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death but anyone who is not immune can become infected.

Measles presents with: A high fever, cough, red and watery eyes and running nose. The rash only starts appearing after the fever, and starts on the face and upper neck. It looks like small, red, flat spots. The rash does not form blisters; neither is it itchy or painful. Over about three days, the rash spreads over the body and then fades after five or six days.

Pertussis and measles are vaccine preventable diseases.

The National Department of Health will run a Measles immunisation campaign countrywide from 6 to 17 February 2023. During this time Health workers will visit schools, nursery schools and crèches to give the children an additional dose of the measles vaccine.

The City strongly advises parents and care-givers to vaccinate their children to protect them from infectious diseases. Prior to the start of the measles campaign, parents will receive a form to sign to give consent that their child may receive the measles vaccine at crèche, nursery school or school.

Source: City Of Cape Town