SA parents warned to vaccinate kids after measles death

2013-05-18 19:01

Local scientists have warned parents to vaccinate their children against measles following the death of a 25-year-old from South Wales in the UK last month.

The Europeans have been battling measles outbreaks for more than a month, but the UK remains the hardest hit with more than 2 300 infections.

The outbreak is believed to have been fuelled by the failure to vaccinate.

In 1998, there was a dramatic drop in the uptake of the combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine in Europe.

This was after a study published in medical journal The Lancetclaimed there was a link between the triple vaccine and autism.

The study was withdrawn in 2010 when it could not be substantiated, but parents across the world continued to believe it.

Now local scientists fear that children who were not vaccinated because of this claim could be in danger of contracting measles and may infect other children who were not fully or not yet immunised against the disease.

Dr Sally Reynolds, a private paediatrician in Johannesburg explained: “We are living in a global community where there is a lot of movement and chances are that the current measles outbreak in Europe will move to our shores very soon.

“My main worry is children who have not yet been vaccinated and those whose parents chose not vaccinate them. They are at a higher risk of contracting the disease,” she said.

Dr Rose Burnett, senior lecturer of epidemiology at the University of Limpopo agreed.

“Children who were not immunised against measles pose an enormous risk to other children who were not vaccinated either, because they are allergic to any of the vaccine components, or are severely immuno-compromised, or younger than nine months.

“For example, the first dose of measles vaccine is given at nine months of age, but nowadays we see more and more children younger than nine months old being infected with measles,” she said.

Burnett further dispelled the myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism. “There is no such thing.

“More importantly, this ‘study’ has subsequently been fully refuted by many large, ethically and scientifically sound epidemiological studies, conducted on sample sizes ranging from hundreds to more than 1 million children,” she explained.

A massive vaccination catch-up campaign is currently running in South Africa.

Parents can find out more about it from public healthcare facilities.

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