1 in 10 SA babies not fully immunised

2012-04-13 06:46

One in ten babies born in South Africa last year were not fully immunised. Another 400 000 children below the age of five were also not fully immunised against measles.

While South Africa childhood immunisation may seem “unnecessary” to some parents, medical experts have warned that this could lead to the re-emergence of diseases that were eradicated decades ago.

Said epidemiologist Dr Rose Burnette: “Young parents and even many young healthcare workers have never seen the devastating effects of diseases such as polio or diphtheria.

“Often they don’t understand why they should subject their children to what they perceive as potentially harmful injections to prevent diseases that in their view do not exist.

What they don’t understand is that vaccination is the very reason why they have never seen these diseases, and if they don’t continue to vaccinate their children, and many others follow suit, soon we will see these diseases re-emerging in South Africa,” Burnette warned.

She said there was a growing number of South African parents who refuse to immunise their children.

A Johannesburg paediatrician, Dr Chizgani Nyazulu, agreed.

Nyazulu described it as becoming “fashionable among young educated parents”.

She also warned that parents who refuse to immunise their children are putting other non-vaccinated children, including infants, at risk.

The immunisation coverage has decreased in South Africa since 1994. Current estimates indicate that only 85% of children have been immunised.

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