As the world marks Immunisation Week during the last week of April, MMC for Health and Social Development Dr Mpho Phalatse has called on residents to visit their nearby clinics to get immunised to avoid health complications.
Johannesburg residents of all ages can access immunisation services offered by the City’s 81 clinics, Randburg Sun reports.
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Phalatse said that the City’s clinics, through the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa (EPI-SA), offers vaccines to prevent death and reduce suffering from childhood diseases, which can be prevented by immunisation, especially of children and women.
She also said it is crucial that residents understand the importance of immunisation.
“[It] prevents illness, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases, including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella, and tetanus.”
And immunisation against these diseases remains the most cost-effective public health intervention that is currently available, she said.
“To date, coverage of fully immunised children under [the age of one] in Joburg is above the national target of 95 per cent.
“The City has made some headway in addressing barriers to immunisation experienced by communities and healthcare workers.
“Through the extended service hours at 13 of our clinics, working mothers who would otherwise miss their children’s appointments can now comply with the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa by visiting our clinics after hours, on weekends as well as on public holidays.”
The MMC said informal settlements with no existing clinic facilities will also be assisted through the rollout of mobile clinics in all seven regions of the City.
“This will ensure that all children in those settlements access this much-needed preventive health intervention, preserving the lives not only of these children but also of those who come into contact with them.”
She added that it was concerning that the immunisation programme still faces serious challenges which undermines the progress that has been made. Lobby groups, like some religious groups who are against immunisation, prove to be one challenge, but Phalatse said some have opted to rally behind the government.
“The City will continue to engage all special interest groups to jointly find ways around this sensitive matter. The health of our children is in our ability to put them first.”
The department still struggles with underutilisation of immunisation services by the community, defaulters, and accessibility of immunisation services to sustain current rates of immunisation coverage.