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City rolls out vaccination drives to protect children


The City of Johannesburg’s Health Department will embark on a series of vaccination campaigns – starting in October – in an ongoing and sustained effort to protect children against health complications and life-threatening diseases.

The first round of the 2016-2017 vaccination campaigns – which covers polio and Vitamin A deficiency vaccinations and deworming – runs from 31 October 2016 to 18 November 2016.

The second round, against measles, is to be rolled out between 6 February 2017 and 24 February 2017, according to Mary Daka, the City’s Health Deputy Director.

Daka says the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that countries conduct immunisation campaigns every three to four years. It also recommends that such opportunities be used to provide additional child survival interventions.

“The aim of the campaigns is to increase children protection against diseases,” said Daka.

The measles virus affects both adults and children and may cause complications and diseases such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs), diarrhoea, otitis media (middle ear infection), infection of the brain tissue and blindness. It may even lead to death.

Polio mainly affects children under the age of 15. There is no cure for polio and its effects are irreversible. Polio can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. It enters the brain and spinal cord and destroys the cells.
The results are weakness of the limbs and can affect both legs and arms.

Vitamin A deficiency is the main cause of preventable blindness in children. Vitamin A plays an important role in strengthening the body’s resistance to infection.
Children who are Vitamin A deficient suffer an increased risk of illness and death, particularly measles and diarrhoea.

South Africa has a high prevalence of soil-transmitted worms. If left untreated, worms may impact negatively on all aspects of a child’s development, including health, nutrition, cognitive development, learning and educational access and achievement.

The City has just concluded the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign. It has vaccinated more than 10 000 schoolgirls every year since 2014.
The vaccinations target nine-year-old Grade 4 learners across the City’s seven regions to prevent cervical cancer, one of two most common cancers affecting women. The other is breast cancer. Early detection and treatment often lead to cure.