There is a wave of measles cases sweeping across South Africa. So far, there have been 382 confirmed cases in five provinces (Nazir et al., 2023).
The number of cases is growing each day, and health officials are ramping up their efforts to get it under control (Nazir et al., 2023).
It’s more crucial than ever for parents and caregivers to get kids under 15 years old, vaccinated, and boosted for measles.
So check your child’s vaccine history and make sure they were vaccinated at 6 months, 12 months and 6 years.
If you are missing any of these boosters, it is worth it to get a top-up on the vaccine.
Where Can You Get The MMR Vaccine?
✔ Free at local clinics and other public health facilities.
✔ Public schools & crèches are being vaccinated for free by school health teams
✔ Available, at cost, in private sector clinics and with doctors
✔ Clicks Clinic offers the vaccination by appointment.
What To Do If Your Child Might Have Measles
If your children illness fits this definition, get a test =
Has a rash which is small, red, flat spots all over the body (measles rash does not cause blisters, it is also not painful and not itchy) and one of the following fever, cough, and/or conjunctivitis (red itch eyes). There may also be a runny nose.
If your child fits the above description, it is crucial that you visit a doctor.
Measles Symptoms In Children
✔ High fever (may spike to more than 40°c),
✔ Runny nose,
✔ Red, watery eyes, and.
✔ Rash or red spots (3-5 days after symptoms begin)
Hitting The Young The Hardest
During this outbreak, South African scientists are seeing that kids aged 5 to 9 have been the most affected, with 40% of cases happening in this age group.
A lot of cases are also being reported in younger kids aged 1 to 4 (28%) and kids aged 10 to 14 (17%) (NICD, 2023). This means that vaccinating kids aged 10 to 14 is really important to help control the spread of the disease (NICD, 2023).
Top 3 Things Parents Should Know About Measles
1. Measles can be serious.
This childhood infection can go wrong. It’s really important to try to avoid catching or spreading this virus as patients may develop pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness and even die (NICD, 2022).
2. Measles is very contagious.
The virus that causes measles spreads through the air and through touch, in tiny virus containing droplets (Unicef, 2023). This means your child can catch the illness just by being in the same room as someone infected (CDC, 2023). Measles can also spread from a person 4 days before they start showing the measles rash and 4 days after the rash appears (Unicef, 2023).
3. The measles vaccine is safe & effective.
The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccine gives your child long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.
In South Africa, children should get their measles vaccine at 6 & 12 months old and then have another booster at 6 years old (Dept Health SA, 2023; thulababy, 2023).
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