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​​​​The City of Johannesburg is using this year’s National Pharmacy Awareness Month to ensure that all children keep to their immunisation schedules, which is in line with the Expanded Programme on Immunisation.

“For the first time this year, the annual Pharmacy Health Promotion will be allocated the entire month of September. It used to be a week campaign to promote and celebrate the health care services rendered by all healthcare professionals,” says Sipho Tsamaesi, Deputy Director for Pharmacy in the City of Johannesburg Health Department.

Pharmacy Awareness Month is supported by the National Department of Health, the South African Pharmacy Council and Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa.

The theme for this year's National Pharmacy Awareness Month is: “Don’t wait – vaccinate”. Under the standing theme “Towards Quality Care Together”, pharmacists will be urged to help educate communities about the importance of vaccination.

Through vaccination, individuals develop immunity to certain diseases, and can protect themselves, their families and communities from these diseases.

“We will be visiting patients at old age homes and retirement villages to assist them with proper use of their chronic illness medications,” adds Tsamaesi.

“Our Health Promoters will do short talks at clinics, ensuring that the important message around immunisation is shared with the entire community. It’s only through the empowerment of our staff and patients, through continuous health education on the use of medication, alternative treatments and prevention, that we’re able to make a difference,” he says.

The immunisation programme with provide the original scheduled vaccines, especially bacillus calmette-guerin (BCG), oral polio and measles.

“Through research and development and new vaccines being developed, we have additions such as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevenar) for prevention of pneumonia and middle ear infection, rotavirus vaccine that helps to protect children against diarrhoea and vomiting caused by rotavirus infection,” says Tsamaesi.