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Joburg’s immunisation drive contains spread of measles Print E-mail
24 July 2017

More than 440 000 children under five years were immunised during a six-week emergency measles vaccination campaign across Johannesburg to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

The immunisation campaign kicked to live after 14 cases were confirmed in City of Johannesburg in March. The highly contagious disease is the leading cause of death among babies and teenagers.

Dr Mary Daka, City of Johannesburg’s Deputy Director of Public Health, says the campaign was highly successful as her department had aimed at reaching at least 95% of the 350 000 children under five years it had targeted.

“The achievement represents 124% of our target. This is a resounding success and I’m very pleased about it,” says Dr Daka.

The City ran the campaign from May 15 to June 30 after a directive from the national Department of Health following a reported increase in the number of confirmed measles cases in Gauteng.

Lenasia, in the City of Johannesburg’s Region G, was identified as a hotspot. The campaign had initially been aimed at children under the age of five but was later extended to include those between the ages of five to 14.

The drive covered a total of 3 728 learning institutions – 2 492 early childhood development centres (ECDs), 807 primary schools and 429 high schools.

“The six-week immunisation drive was aimed at children in ECDs, public and private schools, health facilities as well as at pre-identified hotspots,” says Dr Daka.

She says measles is a highly infectious and notifiable viral disease whose symptoms include high fever, feeling unwell, coughing, runny nose and teary eyes two or three days before a rash breaks out.

“If left untreated, measles can lead to complications including blindness, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and death,” she says.

Her team faced many challenges during the campaign. “There were delays in the delivery of campaign materials, schools were preparing for exams, there were religious issues to consider, data issues, human resources, protests action in some areas and the relatively high targets to be met,” she says.

Dr Daka adds that there were inherent adverse events following the immunisation drive. “A nine-year-old boy collapsed after the process in Yeoville, but quickly recovered after interventions. A six-year-old girl also reacted after the injection in Parkhurst but quickly recovered after management,” she says.

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Last Updated on 25 July 2017