Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has warned that his department may not achieve its set targets if anti-vaccine lobby groups continue to mislead parents about the efficacy of immunisation.
This follows protests by some communities in parts of the country, who have recently experienced a measles outbreak.
Minister Motsoaledi said this year, the department had targeted to reach more than five million children from the age of six months to five years through its measles vaccination campaign and routine services. However, they only managed to achieve 80% of the targets due to a number of factors including anti-vaccine lobby groups and non-cooperative parents, who refuse to sign consent forms to permit healthcare workers to vaccinate their children.
The Minister said the department continues to engage with various community leaders in the affected areas to convince parents and caregivers to cooperate with healthcare workers to have their children vaccinated to protect them against preventable deadly diseases.
“Vaccine refusal endangers everyone, not just the unvaccinated children. Thus, you must prioritise the health and wellbeing of your kids by taking them to the nearest clinic or healthcare provider to ensure that are up-to-date with vaccination,” Minister Motsoaledi said.
Measles is a highly infectious illness with the potential for serious and life threatening complications. Individuals who never had measles and those who are unvaccinated or are incompletely vaccinated may be at risk of measles when visiting areas with measles cases.
Immunisation, which is part of the country’s programmes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on good health and wellbeing, remains one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions, and is widely recognised as critical to achieving the SDGs.
Globally, immunisation prevents an estimated 2.5 million child deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.