File photo: The six-week immunisation drive will target children aged six months to 15 years. Picture: Siddique Davids
Johannesburg - The City of Joburg has embarked on a massive emergency measles vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease, which is the leading cause of death among babies and teenagers.

The campaign – which starts on Monday, May 15 and runs until Friday, June 30 – follows a directive from the national Department of Health after a reported increase in the number of confirmed measles cases in Gauteng.

In March, six cases of measles were confirmed in Joburg, with Lenasia in Region G identified as a hotspot. The disease has since spread to other parts of Joburg.

The six-week immunisation drive will target children aged six months to 15 years in early childhood development (ECD) centres, public and private schools, health facilities as well as at pre-identified hotspots.

Although a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, measles is a highly infectious, notifiable viral disease whose 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.

On March 15, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases confirmed six cases of measles in Joburg. The cases were mainly among primary school children who were previously not vaccinated against the disease. The vaccines are routinely given at six and 12 months of age.

The city’s Health Department has appealed to parents to sign consent forms for their children to be vaccinated.

The forms will be given to the children for the parents to sign and return to their schools or ECD centres.

The Star