The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness reminds parents, guardians, and caregivers that they have until 31 March 2023 to vaccinate their children against measles, as part of the national campaign. This will contribute to increased protection against and contribute to the elimination of measles. An outbreak has now been declared in all the provinces in South Africa, except for the Eastern Cape.
The current laboratory confirmed measles cases in the Western Cape stands at 10, which have all been reported in the Cape Town metropolitan district. Measles surveillance has been intensified across the province and healthcare workers have been urged to be on alert to detect, investigate and manage all suspected or confirmed measles cases appropriately. Blood samples are routinely collected from suspected measles cases which meet the case definition of a rash, fever and one of the ‘Cs’ (cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis).
To date, a total of 420 097 measles vaccines have been administered provincially as part of the measles vaccination campaign. In addition, a total of 16 012 measles vaccines have been administered by private pharmacies, clinics, and healthcare providers. This translates to 24% of the 1 727 392 children under the age of 15 that need to be vaccinated by 31 March 2023.
Breakdown of measles vaccines administered provincially, as of 8 March 2023:
- Cape Metro – 207 025 (19% coverage rate)
- Cape Winelands – 78 732 (33% coverage rate)
- Central Karoo – 7 405 (35% coverage rate)
- Garden Route – 57 918 (36% coverage rate)
- Overberg – 29 799 (38% coverage rate)
- West Coast – 39 218 (32% coverage rate)
“While we make progress with uptake in certain districts in the province, the next two weeks will be important to ensure we reach many more children and provide them with this potentially life-saving vaccine to avoid any complications from the measles disease. We are also pleased with the support from parents, including the Muslim community, towards our integrated school-based immunisation programme,” says Sonia Botha, the coordinator of the Western Cape’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation.
The Western Cape has acknowledged the religious concerns from the Muslim community that the only measles vaccine available in the public sector, MeasBio® (Biovac), contains porcine gelatin. However, both the Muslim Judicial Council and the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa (IMASA), concluded that the transformation of pork products into gelatin alters it sufficiently to make it permissible for Muslims to receive vaccines.
Akiefa Lewis (25) heard the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness team were mobilising the community in Eastridge, Mitchells Plain for the measles campaign. She took her 5-year-old son, Abdul Qadir, for his measles vaccination at the outreach. “I brought my son for the measles injection because of all the viruses in the community and to protect him from getting really sick.”
Tasneem Lewis (29), brought her 3-year-old daughter, Noorjahan, to the Day Care in Mitchells Plain for her measles vaccine after hearing that the team will be in the area. “I know that the measles virus can be very dangerous, and my daughter gets ill very quickly, that is why I chose to immunise her for her own safety.”
Through the ongoing measles campaign, we aim to interrupt measles transmission amongst our communities. Children 6 months to 15 years of age are included for vaccination during the outbreak response and nationwide campaign. Most side-effects from vaccination are minor and quickly disappear. Severe allergic reactions are rare. If any reaction is severe or persistent, or if you are worried about your child, please contact your healthcare worker or doctor.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic Of South Africa: Western Cape Provincial Government.