South Africa: Vaccinate Your Child Today

As the country commemorates African Vaccination Week, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) has urged South Africans to find out more about vaccinations in their areas, and to ensure that their children are vaccinated.

"Statistics show vaccines do work and it is imperative that adults and children are properly immunised. SAMA stands firmly behind these celebrations which aim to raise awareness and increase the number of vaccinations throughout the country," said SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.

African Vaccination Week coincides with World Immunisation Week, which takes place from 24 to 30 April to underscore the importance of immunisation in saving lives and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.

This year's World Immunization Week is commemorated under the theme 'Protected Together: #VaccinesWork'. The theme aims to raise awareness about the importance of full immunisation throughout life and urge greater action.

Since 2000, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) has been working in public-private partnerships such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank to increase access to immunisation in 73 poor countries.

These partnerships have resulted in a decrease of the average child mortality in GAVI-supported countries, from 76 deaths/1 000 live births in 2010, to 63 deaths/1 000 live births in 2015. GAVI supported the vaccination of 277 million children by the end of 2015.

Where can I vaccinate my child?

People who want to vaccinate their children should visit State local clinics, hospitals and community health centres, which provide free vaccinations.

"If children have missed any vaccinations, they should visit a healthcare facility to find out more about being vaccinated as adults," Coetzee said.

However, she cautioned that some people should refrain from being immunised. These include people who have had severe life-threatening allergic reaction to any of the substances contained in the vaccine (IPV contains trace amounts of the antibiotics streptomycin, neomycin, polymyxin B), people who have experienced previous allergic skin rashes that are not a contraindication to vaccination, people who are critically ill, and people with severe forms of inherited primary immune deficiencies.

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