The WHO urge parents to prioritise their children's routine vaccinations amid Covid-19

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Vaccines have never been more relevant than now. (Marko Geber/Getty Images)
Vaccines have never been more relevant than now. (Marko Geber/Getty Images)

With the novel coronavirus overburdening our already strained health-care system, other medically necessary services have been disrupted.

Maternal and neonatal health has been identified as particularly at risk during the pandemic, and in some instances, new mothers have even been denied vital services including vaccination for their babies. 

Issuing a warning against such actions the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging countries to priorities this service especially in instances where children have missed routine vaccinations due to lockdown restrictions.

"Disease outbreaks must not remain a threat when we have safe and effective vaccines to protect us. While the world strives to develop a new vaccine for COVID-19 at record speed, we must not risk losing the fight to protect everyone, everywhere against vaccine-preventable diseases," said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO is also calling on parents and guardians to play their part in ensuring that children do not miss out on life-saving vaccinations.

Also see: Local doctor explains the rise of the anti-vaxx movement

Vaccines have never been more relevant than now         

"One can only imagine the devastation of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) such as whooping cough or polio superimposed on a pandemic where healthcare resources and facilities are already under strain due to Covid-19," says Dr Nasiha Soofie, Country Medical Head for the Vaccines Unit and Exports Market at Sanofi Pasteur.

Although some diseases like diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus may have become uncommon, the viruses or bacteria that cause them, continue to circulate.

With the current pandemic proving just how easily a virus can move from one part of the world to another, vaccines have never been more relevant than now.

Among other preventable diseases, vaccines protect against:

  • Measles can cause deafness and death.
  • Polio can cause permanent disability.
  • Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer.

Must see: Vaccination calendar

    The vaccination schedules in South Africa

    Here’s a look at the current vaccination schedules in South Africa freely available at state clinics. Contact your local clinic for advice.

    National Routine Immunisation Schedule in SA 


    Sources: The Department of HealthThe what, why and when of childhood vaccination in South Africa – 2019.

    Compiled for Parent24 by Lesley-Anne Johannes. 

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