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Parents urged to vaccinate children against measles

The City said its aim is to have 95% of children immunised against measles as this would prevent outbreaks. Picture: Supplied

The City said its aim is to have 95% of children immunised against measles as this would prevent outbreaks. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 23, 2022

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The City of Cape Town’s health services aims to increase vaccination rates for children against measles to create herd immunity following reported cases in Gauteng.

The City is encouraging parents to keep up with their children’s immunisation schedule and be on the lookout for symptoms of childhood diseases - especially measles.

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A cluster of measles cases were reported in Gauteng, and a measles alert sent out by the National Institute of Communicable Disease, necessitated the need to raise awareness on the seriousness of the disease.

Mayco member for Community Services and Health Patricia van der Ross said their aim was to have 95% of children immunised against measles as this would prevent outbreaks.

“This amount of coverage provides herd immunity. Currently we have between 75% and 85% measles second dose vaccination coverage in the metro.

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“Two doses of the vaccine are recommended to ensure immunity and prevent outbreaks, as about 15% of vaccinated children fail to develop immunity from the first dose,” said Van der Ross.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus and it is normally passed through direct contact and through particles in the air. The virus infects the respiratory tract, then spreads throughout the body.

“Measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children around the world, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Complications are more common in children under the age of five or adults over the age of 20. Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease,” she added.

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Signs and symptoms

· The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts four to seven days

· Other signs such as a cough, red and watery eyes, running nose and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage

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· After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. The rash looks like small, red, flat spots over the body. The rash does not form blisters, nor is it itchy or painful

· Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days)

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