KAMPALA – A few weeks ago I wrote about the upcoming Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign.
For whatever reasons, many parents on here and in Kampala particularly are against this campaign.
They wonder why they need to re-vaccinate their kids when they have already vaccinated against measles.
I think we (health workers and government) haven’t done an excellent job educating people about its importance.
So let me try again…
This time in summary form of 25 points…
Bambi continue to read…
1) Vaccines are effective and safe. They have saved millions on children and adults
2) Measles vaccine prevents against deadly measles.
3) Your child is protected against measles virus for the first 6 months because of the mother’s antibodies in breastmilk.
4) After 6 months, therefore, your child invulnerable to catch the deadly measles vaccine.
5) However, if we vaccinated your child at 6 months to prevent measles, the body’s reaction to the vaccine will be weak because your child’s immune system is still very weak.
6) The best time to give your child the measles vaccine is actually NOT at 9 months but after ONE YEAR. This is when the best response to the measles vaccine will be got.
Japan, UK, US, Australia etc all vaccinate their kids after 1 year for this reason.
7) In poor countries like Uganda, if we waited until they were 1 year, many poor children would not make it because of the would catch measles and die.
8) As a result, Uganda and many African countries reaches a compromise and provides free immunisation at 9 months instead of after one year.
9) Because of this compromise (immunising at 9 months instead of after 1 year), your child will be protected but not 100%. They will need a BOOSTER dose once they are above 1-year-old.
10) Unfortunately this booster dose is not free. It’s usually provided by the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine which can be acquired privately.
11) Clever parents, therefore, get the measles vaccine at 9 months and get a booster after 1 year.
12) It is also important to note that your child vaccinated at 9 months can still get measles but it wont be as severe. This is because the immune system hasn’t fully developed to provide the best response.
13) To eradicate measles in the community, 95% of that community must be immune and vaccinated.
14) Uganda is currently experiencing a measles outbreak and currently a small percent of children are immunized with the 9-month measles vaccine.
15) Because the government knows that not all parents can afford booster doses for their children, and the fact that some children have never immunised, and also that your child can still get measles, they have planned a mass vaccination campaign against measles for those kids from 9 months until 15 years.
16) What this does is to bring the immunisation rates to above 90% on the community so that there is protection for everyone. It also ensures that you get a booster dose. For free.
17) If you’ve ever gotten MMR, you should also benefit from this free booster dose.
18) The children will also get the Rubella vaccine.
19) Rubella isn’t too deadly to your child. They will get a rash, a fever and will probably get better within a few days.
20) However, if your child picks that infection from school and brings it home, and you happen to be pregnant, your unborn child can DIE or get what we call Congenital Rubella Syndrome where the child will be born not being able to see, having holes in the heart, having gaps in lips etc…
21) In simple terms, rubella is deadly if a pregnant woman gets it.
22) We are, therefore, immunizing your child against it so that they don’t pass it on to you if they pick it from school and you happen to be pregnant.
23) So MR (Measles and Rubella) vaccination is to protect the child against measles and the pregnant woman against rubella.
24) During this campaign, your child will also be immunised against polio if they are below 5 years. This is to ensure it is finally eliminated from Uganda.
25) The immunization is both at school and at health centres because that’s where the children are (at school) and those who prefer can go to health centres.
I hope these 25 points help.
The writer works at Children’s Clinic Naalya