Measles campaign to reach more than 3 million

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development is scaling up its measles vaccination campaign after more cases of the disease have been reported in the province.

The department hopes to vaccinate more than three million people by the end of the month.

In a statement, the department said it was currently on a drive to immunise about 5 000 inmates at the Johannesburg Correctional Services after a measles outbreak was detected there on Sunday.

A total of 51 measles cases have been confirmed at the facility.

As of last Monday the province has recorded 1034 confirmed measles cases, with one confirmed death.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development, Qedani Mahlangu, has urged parents to return consent forms to school and crSches so that children can be immunised as part of the provincial government's broader vaccination campaign.

A concerned Mahlangu said it was regrettable that some parents had not signed the forms allowing their children to be immunised. "We would like to urge all parents to cooperate in this regard as this will minimise the spread of this disease, which is otherwise easily prevented," said Mahlangu.

She noted that while the disease affected mostly children, current trends indicate that adults were not immune and also called on adults to get the necessary immunisation to avoid being infected.

The department further reported that 1.4 million people have been immunised following the provincial measles campaign, which started two weeks ago.

The campaign has seen health workers visiting schools and crSches targeting children from the ages of six months up to both primary and high schools learners.

In another measure to ensure that the disease is contained, the department's Outbreak Response Team has alerted all clinicians in the private and public sector to be on the look out for any signs and symptoms from patients who present themselves at the health facilities.

Infection control officers in all hospitals have also been requested to be on high surveillance for the disease and ongoing public education provided through clinics.

Health promoters dispatched throughout the province are also focusing on measles.