For COVID-19 updates, visit the official government website www.sacoronavirus.co.za

The provincial Department of Health wants to ensure that no one is left behind when it rolls out its annual school immunisation programme from 1 March until 30 April 2021. Nurses from the Department will be visiting public schools to administer doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and the tetanus and diphtheria booster.

Girls in Grade 5, over the age of nine years (and those who missed last year’s vaccination due to the COVID-19 pandemic or school closures), with the necessary consent, will be eligible for the HPV vaccine. Boys and girls in Grade 5, over the age of nine years, with the necessary consent, will also be eligible for the Td-Diftavax booster this year during the first round of the HPV campaign.

In what has been an unprecedented period for childhood immunisations, lockdowns have made it harder for parents or caregivers to reach immunisation sessions. As one the most cost-effective prevention tools available, the Department believes that investing in HPV vaccination for girls can take us closer to eliminating cervical cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer among women aged 15 and 44 years in South Africa (South African Medical Research Council, 2019). The HPV vaccines provide a safe and highly effective means to reduce the burden of cervical cancer. Vaccination against HPV, which is passed from person to person through sexual contact, can protect against at least 70% of all cervical cancers.

Meanwhile, the tetanus and diphtheria booster doses strengthen or boost the immune system to give better protection against these two life-threatening diseases. Tetanus can lead to painful stiffening of the muscles, while diphtheria can lead to difficulty breathing and even heart failure.

As with all vaccinations, some girls may experience some bruising or redness at the vaccination site. In very few cases, due to nervousness and anxiety, some girls have reported vomiting and nausea, although this seems to be at the thought of being injected rather than a response to the vaccine.

Parents or caregivers must give their permission before allowing their daughters or sons to receive a medical intervention or procedure. For consent to be valid, it must be informed, understood and voluntary, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision. Nurses will never administer vaccines and/or conduct general health assessments without the permission of parents or caregivers. It is important that parents or caregivers complete the necessary consent forms and submit them to the schools prior to the officials visiting.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for many parents and caregivers, and their school children. We acknowledge their concerns to vaccinate their children because they work hard to protect them every day. Vaccines are as important as feeding your child healthy foods or using a car seat or seat belt when travelling. If they have questions about vaccines, the vaccine schedule outlined in the Road to Health booklet, or how to catch up if their child did not start receiving vaccines during the pandemic, they can talk to their healthcare worker to make an educated decision,” said Sonia Botha, coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in the Western Cape.

 

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Gesondheidsdepartement se immuniseringsveldtog skop af by skole

Die provinsiale Departement van Gesondheid wil seker maak dat niemand agter gelaat word nie wanneer dit kom by die uitrol van die jaarlikse immuniseringsveldtog by skole van 1 Maart tot 30 April 2021. Die Departement se verpleegkundiges sal openbare skole besoek en dosisse van die menslike papiloomvirus (MPV)-entstof bied, asook ‘n aanvulling teen tetanus (klem-in-die-kaak) en witseerkeel (‘n ernstige infeksie in die neus en keel).

Meisies in Gr. 5 wie ouer as nege jaar is asook die wie verlede jaar se MPV-entstof gemis het weens die COVID-19-pandemie en skole wat gesluit was, kan die entstof kry indien die nodige toestemming gegee is. Seuns en meisies in Gr. 5 wie ouer as nege jaar is en wie se ouers of voogde toestemming gegee het, kan die Td-Diftavax-aanvulling kry tydens hierdie eerste rondte van die MPV-veldtog.

In die ongewone tyd van die pandemie was dit moeiliker vir ouers of versorgers om kinders vir immunisering te neem. Immunisering is een van die koste-effektiefste voorkomingsmaatreëls wat beskikbaar is, en die Departement glo daarin dat om te belê in die MPV-immunisering vir meisies ons nader bring daaraan om servikale kanker te beëindig. Volgens die Suid-Afrikaanse Mediese Navorsingsraad is MPV die nr. 1 oorsaak van servikale kanker in vroue tussen 15 en 44 jaar oud in Suid-Afrika. MPV-entstowe bied ‘n veilige en uiters doeltreffende manier om servikale kanker aan te spreek. Immunisering teen MPV, wat van een persoon aan ‘n ander oorgedra word deur seksuele kontak, kan beskerming bied teen minstens 70% van alle servikale kankers.

Die Td-Diftavax-aanvulling versterk die immuunstelsel om beter beskerming te bied teen hierdie twee tetanus en witseerkeel wat lewensgevaarlik kan wees. Tetanus kan lei tot seer, stywe spiere, terwyl witseerkeel kan veroorsaak dat jy sukkel om asem te haal of selfs hartversaking.

Soos met alle entstowwe kan meisies kneusing of rooiheid verwag waar die entstof toegedien is. Braking of naarheid word baie selde aangemeld en in die enkele gevalle wat dit voorgekom het, was dit waarskynlik weens angstigheid eerder as ‘n reaksie tot die entstof.

Ouers of versorgers moet hul toestemming gee voordat hul seuns of dogters ‘n mediese ingryping of prosedure ondergaan. Die toestemming is geldig wanneer die persoon wat in staat is om die besluit te neem dit vrywillig doen nadat hy ten volle ingelig is en die proses verstaan. Verpleegkundiges sal onder geen omstandighede entstowwe toedien of algemene gesondheidsevaluasies doen sonder die toestemming van die ouer of voog nie.

Dit is belangrik dat ouers of voogde die toestemmingsvorms voltooi en ingee by die skool voordat die gesondheidspersoneel die skool besoek.

“Die COVID-19-pandemie was moeilik vir baie ouers en voogde, en so ook hul skoolgaande kinders. Ons verstaan hul huiwering om hul kinders te laat immuniseer, omdat hulle elke dag hard werk om hulle te beskrem. Entstowwe is net so belangrik soos om jou kind gesonde kos te gee, om ‘n kartstoeltjie te gebruik of die veiligheidsgordel te gebruik wanneer julle reis. As jy enige vrae oor entstowwe, die skedule waarvolgens entstowwe toegedien word in die Road to Health-boekie, of hoe jou kind entstowwe wat hy gemis het, kan inhaal, praat met ‘n gesondheidswerker sodat jy ‘n ingeligte besluit kan neem,” sê me. Sonia Botha, Koördineerder van die Uitgebreide Program op Immunisering in die Wes-Kaap.