A child receives the polio vaccine. File picture: AP
A child receives the polio vaccine. File picture: AP

Don’t allow Covid-19 to disrupt your child’s routine immunisation

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Cape Town - This week marks World Immunisation Week and despite the positive impact vaccines have had on the world, many children have not been vaccinated due to the global pandemic.

It is estimated that every year about 20 million children do not get the basic set of vaccinations that are required.

Paediatrician Dr Ashley Wewege says that out of those 20 million, there are 13 million children annually who receive no vaccinations.

“It’s simply not acceptable. We need to eradicate this number.When you have a newborn baby, it is important to vaccinate everyone who will be around that little child in the first six weeks of life against whooping cough (pertussis), you create what we call a cocoon of safety,” said Wewege.

According to a survey by the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 60 mass immunisation campaigns in 50 countries were on hold, putting about 228 million people, mostly children, at risk of preventable serious diseases such as measles, polio, yellow fever and diphtheria.

In South Africa, about 12 priority districts have reported below 90% and 80% targets respectively in the measles second dose and hexavalent third dose since November.

Using the theme “Vaccines bring us closer”, the WHO says it will use this period to urge greater engagement around immunisation globally to promote the importance of vaccination in bringing people together, and improving the health and well-being of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

“Gaps in vaccination coverage are already having grave, real-world consequences,” said the World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

As part of the 2021 campaign, WHO, partners and individuals across the world will unite to:

  • Increase trust and confidence in vaccines to maintain or increase vaccine acceptance.
  • Increase investment in vaccines, including routine immunisation, to remove barriers to access.
  • Reduce by half the number of “zero-dose” children receiving no inoculations, from 20 million to 10 million, among other steps.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Health Department is appealing to parents and caregivers to help ensure that the uptake of vaccines do not drop.

“If parents and caregivers have questions about vaccines, the vaccine schedule outlined in the Road to Health booklet, or how to catch up if their child did not start receiving vaccines during the pandemic, they can speak to a health-care worker or make an appointment at the clinic,”said Beatrice Groenewald, the clinical programme co-ordinator.

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