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Vaccination campaign

The Department of Health (DoH) carries out two immunisation rounds every year. The first round covers polio and measles, and takes place between 29 April and 17 May. The second round covers only polio, and will run between 17 and 28 June. The DoH provides these vaccines free of charge to patients visiting public sector facilities. The vaccines are both Schedule 2 medicines, so they may also be sold in community pharmacies.
In general, the DoH recommends that all children under the age of five should be immunised against the most common childhood diseases. In 2006, the overall routine immunisation coverage for South Africa was less than 80%, and some districts still had less than 60% immunisation coverage at the stage.
Pharmacists in all sectors of pharmacy can make a significant contribution by urging mothers to have their children immunised, and by dispelling some of the myths surrounding vaccines.

Help dispel measles and polio myths with vaccination campaign participation

Measles and polio are highly infectious diseases that have potentially fatal complications.

Initiatives by the WHO has reduced polio occurrence by 99 percent since 1988 from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 416 reported cases in 2013. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, while between five and ten percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilised.

Although the last case of polio was reported in South Africa in 1989, as long as there are still cases of wild poliovirus anywhere in the world, polio can easily be imported and spread within a polio free country if all the children have not been fully vaccinated.
Measles remains one of the leading causes of death amongst young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, whereas polio affects the most vulnerable, with 95 percent of outbreaks occurring in developing countries.

In recent years there have been periodic outbreaks of measles. In 2009, an outbreak of more than 2000 cases of measles occurred, including four fatalities. Allison Veining, Executive Director of the Self Medication Association of South Africa (SMASA) believes that a major contributory factor was the fact that there is still a widely held belief that these vaccines lead to autism. Experts have continuously discredited the link between autism and the measles vaccination.

Measles vaccination worldwide has resulted in a 75 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013, which prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths.

Measles signs and symptoms
  • High fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts for up to four to seven days.
  • A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.
  • After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. 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.
Initial symptoms of polio
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs
Thanks to SMASA for providing references for the facts cited in this newsletter.
This newsletter is sponsored by PPS - visit their website www.pps.co.za
Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa
PSSA Newsletter #10/2015 – 7 May 2015
The PSSA – pharmacy in action!
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