By Nation Reporter
PARENTS and guardians from Ng’ombe and Chazanga clinics in Lusaka have turned up in large numbers to have their children vaccinated for measles and a new infection known as rubella virus.
Zambia kicked off the country-wide immunization exercise to vaccinate children aged between nine months and 15 years against measles and rubella virus.
The vaccination exercise was being conducted in all health facilities and schools to reach the targeted number of children throughout the country.
A check by the Daily Nation from the two clinics found long queues of children who had been taken by their parents and guardians for vaccination.
Mwange Masauko of Kasisi, a mother of two, aged three and six, said the vaccination exercise was good because children will be protected from measles and it was the first time children were being vaccinated against rubella virus.
She said the Ministry of Health should carry out massive sensitization to encourage more parents to take their children for vaccination.
Annie Mwanangombe reiterated that the vaccination was good in that it prevented the unborn children from measles and rubella if immunization was taken by a pregnant girl.
At Ng’ombe clinic Matthew Ngalasiya said children needed to lead healthy lives as they were the future and it was Government’s mandate to provide health services to the people.
He said the Ministry of Heaalth should continue encouraging people to take their children for such immunization because it was beneficial to both mothers and children.
Ministry of Health deputy director for child health and nutrition Angels Mwiche said Government, in partnership with other stakeholders, decided to conduct the measles and rubella vaccination exercise to protect people from the adverse effects of the diseases and targeted the ages between nine months and 15 years because it was easy to eradicate measles and rubella once they were vaccinated.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), measles is a highly contagious disease which is caused by a virus. It is passed through direct contact and through air.
Symptoms of measles include high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and it lasts four to seven days.
Other symptoms of measles include a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks which can develop in the initial stage.
Rubella is an acute contagious viral infection. WHO states that the illness is generally mild in children, however, has consequences in pregnant women causing fatal defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
“When a woman is infected with the rubella virus early in pregnancy, she has a 90 percent chance of passing the virus on to her foetus. This can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or severe birth defects.“Children with CRS can suffer from hearing impairments, eye and heart defects, and other lifelong disabilities, including autism, diabetes mellitus and thyroid dysfunction, many of which require costly therapy, surgeries and other expensive care,” WHO states.
Government, with support from GAVI, is expected to spend US$4.3 million to vaccinate over seven million children aged nine months to 15 years against measles and rubella diseases.
The combined vaccination campaign came to an end on Saturday.