The City of Johannesburg is launching an emergency measles vaccination campaign following after 11 cases of the illness were reported in Gauteng.
A highly infectious notifiable viral disease
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.
The announcement was made in a statement warning residents to be cautious of a possible outbreak of measles – a highly contagious disease which is the leading cause of death among babies and teenagers – 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 target children between six months and 15 years old.
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.
Saving a lot of children
“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.
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.