As part of nationwide efforts to contain outbreaks of measles, as experienced in several other provinces, the Western Cape Department of Health will make additional booster doses available for every child under the age of 15 from 6 February until 31 March.
The department encourages parents and caregivers to support the measles vaccination campaign and to ensure they keep up with their children’s immunisation schedule.
Health officials will be visiting crèches, day-care centres or public schools through the integrated school vaccination programme to offer convenient and safe vaccinations.
Parents will need to sign an informed consent form, sent by the education facility, giving permission for their child to receive the measles vaccination.
Parents of children u-15 who are not in crèches, day-care centres or public schools, are urged to take their child to their closest clinic.
Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, said: “There are reports of measles outbreaks in the rest of the country, and some parents are worried. Our goal is for all children under 15 in the province to be protected by a measles vaccine.
“This will enable us to interrupt the spread of measles cases and save lives. We appeal to parents and caregivers to make the wise choice and have their eligible children vaccinated against measles. Let us leave no child behind and ensure they grow up healthy.”
Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children. It is particularly dangerous for children, who may develop severe complications such as pneumonia or brain swelling. Symptoms usually include fever, cough, red eyes and a rash. Measles is extremely contagious.
“The vaccine provides lifelong protection against measles and is available free of charge at public health facilities and through our integrated school vaccination programme,” said Sonia Botha, the Western Cape coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).
To be protected against measles, two doses of the measles vaccine are required. Currently, an average of 80% of children in the province have received two doses of measles.
Routine measles vaccination for children is a key public health strategy to reduce measles related deaths.
The measles vaccine has been in use for over 50 years. It is safe, effective, and inexpensive.