Health OurHealth

Emergency vaccination to curb measles outbreak in Gauteng

Shortage of infant's immunisation vaccines at Itsoseng Community Healthcare Centre: File photo.
Written by Ramatamo Sehoai

The City of Johannesburg is launching an emergency measles vaccination campaign following after 11 cases of the the illness have been reported in Gauteng.

In South Africa, children should be vaccinated against measles at nine & 18 months

The drive is set to start on Monday, and will target children between 6 months and 15 years old.

The announcement was made in a statement warning residents to be cautious of a possible outbreak of measles this winter season after 11 cases were reported in Region G near Lenasia, south of Johannesburg.

This prompted the city to embark on a vaccination drive to curb the disease from spreading further in other regions. The campaign will run from Monday May to Friday June 30.

‘Vaccine is available’

The City explained that although a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, measles is a highly infectious notifiable viral disease. 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.

“The six-week immunisation drive will target children in early childhood development (ECD) centres, public and private schools, health facilities as well as at pre-identified hotspots,” the City of Joburg said.

Ethel Mngomezulu-Lebeloane, who runs an early childhood development centre for 102 children in Alexandra, said they welcome the news as the immunisation drops will save a lot of children.
“We were a bit worried that immunisation looks like is delayed this year, but when we saw health officials bringing consent forms, we were relieved,” she said.

Routine vaccinations

Speaking on behalf of the city, Nonhlakanipho Mathenjwa said campaigns do not replace routine vaccinations but serve as additional doses complimenting the routine and reaching out to cover those who had missed opportunities to be vaccinated.

She advised anyone experiencing measles signs and symptoms to immediately seek medical attention, regardless of their age.

According to the World Health Organization, measles is a highly contagious and a serious disease caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. It is normally passed through direct contact and is also airborne. It infects the respiratory tract then spreads throughout the body. The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally. – Health-e News.

An edited version of this story also appeared on Health24.

About the author

Ramatamo Sehoai

Ramatamo Sehoai is an award-winning community journalist from Alexandra Township who curved his health journalism at FrayIntermedia and Mail & Guardian. He has written for numerous publications as a freelancer and won fellowships. Ramatamo is one of our Gauteng based citizen journalists and hosts a weekly talk show at Alex FM. He is also studying towards a BA Honours in Journalism and Media studies at Wits University.