Vital vaccinations
Move!|8 January 2020
Immunising your children not only protects their health – it reduces the risk of disease for everyone else as well
NKOSAZANA NGWADLA

IT’S something that can save lives, it’s often free and readily available and yet so many people aren’t doing it. Vaccines are critical in dest­roying disease but it’s becoming a global problem that people aren’t vaccinating their kids – so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) named “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top 10 threats to global health last year.

People who aren’t getting their kids vaccinated are undoing a lot of the good work done over the past few decades to get rid of diseases such as measles and polio almost completely. They’re also putting their kids and others at risk.

Vaccines prevent at least 2­3 million deaths each year, and the WHO believes another 1,5 million lives could be saved if more people were immunised.

In South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recently declared a whooping cough outbreak – caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria – in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay, despite there being a vaccine for it.

They’re investigating whether the kids affected had been vaccinated, associate professor Cheryl Cohen, head of the NICD’s Centre for Respiratory Disease and Meningitis, told Times Select, but the statistics didn’t paint a good picture.

In 2016, Statistics SA estimated that the third dose of the vaccine for whooping cough had only been given to 65% of kids in the relevant age group – well below the WHO’s recommended target of more than 90%.

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