June 24, 2017

News:

Parents urged to vaccinate children against killer diseases

Health MEC Butana Komphela has encouraged parents to vaccinate their children against killer diseases saying the service was free of charge and that public health facilities did not discriminate on the basis of nationality.

Komphela to The Weekly that some parents who are in the country illegally were endangering the lives of their children by not having them vaccinated on time because they believe they do not qualify to be assisted at local health centres.

The MEC said this as the country joined the rest of the continent to celebrate the African Vaccination Week, an annual event celebrated during the last week of April (24-30).

“Our health facilities do not turn away people on the basis of nationality or that you are in the country illegally,” explained Komphela.

“Health issues are very important to us that’s why we are encouraging parents to adhere to entire vaccination schedule until it’s finished,” he added.

This year’s vaccination week was observed under the theme: “Vaccines protect everyone, get vaccinated”.

The theme seeks to raise awareness on the importance of full immunisation throughout life and its role in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The celebration is led and coordinated by the World Health Organisation and implemented by member countries.

According to Komphela, adhering to vaccination schedules enables people of various stages to lead long and healthy lives.

He said it is a well-known fact that any child that has not gone through and completed the different vaccination stages tends to have a compromised immune system.

“A compromised immune system can result in them suffering from under development, different types of ailments, diseases and allergies. In worst cases children that have not been properly and consistently immunized can suffer from polio and cancers,” said the MEC.

In South Africa, children are mainly immunized against diseases as polio, measles, diphtheria, heamophilus influenza ytype B, whooping cough, tetanus, meningitis, pneumonia, rotavirus diarrhoea, and hepatitis B.

A statement from the provincial health department stated that babies are born with a certain amount of natural protection against disease, which comes in the form of antibodies they get from their mothers. However, the natural protection does not last past the first year of life and young children are at risk of a number of diseases that can be serious, and even fatal.

It said childhood immunisation helps the immune system build up resistance to disease. It works by giving children vaccines containing tiny amounts of viruses or bacteria that are dead, weakened, or purified components. The vaccines prompt the child’s immune system to produce antibodies that will attack the virus or bacteria to prevent disease.

The child’s immune system stores the information about how to produce those particular antibodies and responds if the child is exposed to that same virus or bacteria in the future.

The statement said diseases do not stop at borders. People can carry vaccine-preventable diseases into South Africa and spread them to children who are not vaccinated.

Komphela also urged parents to ensure that their children are up-to-date on immunisations by visiting their nearest health facilities to confirm.

Parents, according to the MEC, should keep a “Road to Health Booklet” to record all immusations and ask at every visit if their child needs immunisation.

He also advised parents not to be afraid to ask questions.

“This is a clarion call for parents to comply. The week-long campaign is also aimed at reaching out to the illiterate in our societies. We believe no woman should die while giving birth and no child should die of a preventable disease,” said Komphela.

No outbreaks of diseases as a result of children not being vaccinated have been reported in the Free State.

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