Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Polio, measles immunizations in South Africa don't reach all children

From News 24 in South Africa:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The department of health is likely to miss its target of immunising 15 million children against polio and measles, a spokesperson said on April 19.

"Despite all the hard work that has gone into the first week of the campaign, current information indicates that without any additional measures, the desired target of immunising all 15 million children is not likely to be reached," spokesperson Charity Bhengu said. The campaign was being hampered by people's failure to come forward for immunisation and parents failure to sign consent forms.

The department is conducting a national immunisation campaign to protect all children in South Africa against polio and measles. The first round of the campaign started on April 12 and continues until April 23.

"All children under 15 years are eligible for immunisation in this campaign, irrespective of their immunisation status," Bhengu said, adding that there was a measles outbreak in all nine provinces.

"Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in human beings and remains one of the leading causes of death in the African region."

She said that although polio transmission had significantly declined throughout the world, it was still circulating in some of South Africa's neighbouring countries and posed a risk to South African children.

She urged parents and caregivers who had not vaccinated their children to visit their nearest clinic.

"All children younger than 15 are eligible for vaccination. You do not have to be a South African or possess a route to health card to be vaccinated in this campaign."