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South Africa, 22 April 2014: Vaccines save lives – is your child’s up to date?

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Hearfield
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Hearfield
The reception area at the Kgabo Clinic in Gauteng comes alive with excited chatter as dozens of mothers from the neighbourhood wait their turn to have their children vaccinated.

22 April 2014, South Africa – The nine-month old child squirms in her mother’s arms. Somewhat confused, the baby girl’s eyes dart all over the room, but then they fix on her mother’s smiling face, and she relaxes immediately. Seconds later, little Blessing has been vaccinated against polio, and her mother can rest assured that her daughter will not be contracting this life-threatening and debilitating infectious disease. 

Blessing was brought in by her mother, Charlotte (34) to be vaccinated against polio and measles during South Africa’s previous annual immunisation and vaccination drive. The campaign coincides with World Immunisation Week which is observed yearly during the last week of April.

“This campaign is very beneficial to the community, because it will stop our children from becoming sick,” said Charlotte. “I told all my friends to come too.”

Vaccines may be free of charge at South Africa’s local clinics and community health centers, but many babies and children remain unvaccinated - leaving them vulnerable to diseases such as measles. 

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Hearfield
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Hearfield
Charlotte Mabelane (34 years old) is a first time mother and has brought her baby, Blessing (9 months) to be vaccinated.

Immunisation is the most effective measure against serious diseases in childhood and prevents an estimated 2.5 million child deaths globally each year. Diseases under control, including polio and measles, could return in epidemic or pandemic proportions if not controlled carefully.

Despite this success, 1 in 5 children are still missing out. In 2012 an estimated 22.6 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine immunisation services. 

This year’s World Immunization Week campaign seeks to address the knowledge gap which can prevent people from getting vaccinated.

During this week, people are encouraged to:

  • know what vaccines are available to protect against disease;
  • be motivated to check their children’s vaccination status; and
  • get the vaccines they need from their local health practitioner.

About World Immunisation Week

World Immunization Week – celebrated in the last week of April (24-30) - aims to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. 



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