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Measles Booster Vaccine Campaign 2023

measles vaccine

Should my child receive the measles booster?

The simple answer is YES! Over the last three weeks, my practice has been inundated with calls from parents inquiring about the measles booster vaccine.


Why are we doing a booster?

Toward the end of 2022, the Health Department reported some confirmed measles cases in the Limpopo area. Since then, the number of cases has risen to 406 cases. By the third week of 2023, Gauteng had reported a total of 25 confirmed measles cases. Limpopo reported a total of 149 cases, Mpumalanga had 81 cases, and North West Province had 133 cases.

Most cases are between the ages of 5 to 9 years, although children younger than a year have been reported in Limpopo.

Unfortunately, the vaccination status of 80% of cases is unknown. 11% were unvaccinated, and 9% were vaccinated. We must remember that COVID-19 did interrupt many vaccination programs, so it is essential that children now receive their vaccinations as a matter of urgency. Your Health Care Provider or clinic can assist you with a catch-up program if your child is missing any of his or her vaccinations.


My child has been vaccinated. Must they still have the booster?

Most of the children in my practice received their measles vaccinations at 12 months and 15 months. If they are old enough, then they would have received a booster at 6 years of age. Fantastic!  You must have the booster even if your child has had these vaccines. Not all vaccinations are 100% effective, so by doing the booster, you are ensuring the best possible protection for your child. The Health Department is going around the schools offering a measles booster. Parents are encouraged to allow their children to have this booster.

If your child received a measles vaccine or the MMR vaccine in the last two months, then you do not have to do the booster.

What happens with children under 1 year of age?

The current vaccination schedule offers a straight measles injection at the age of 6 months. This vaccination is generally available from your Government Clinics or pharmacies that offer vaccinations.

The MMR vaccination, which protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella in a single injection, is usually given at 12 months. It is repeated at 15 months, and a booster is given between the ages of four years and six years.

Please discuss the options with your Health Care Provider.


Not all rashes are measles

Understandably there is a lot of concern about measles in our community. However, parents must please be aware that there are a lot of illnesses that cause rashes.

I have seen a lot of children in my practice recently with rashes. Not one of these children had measles. The majority of rashes turned out to be either Coxsackie (hand, foot and mouth) or Roseola. Coxsackie typically starts on the palms of the hands or under the feet and then spreads to the rest of the body. Roseola starts with very high fevers for 3 to 4 days with nothing else to find. The fever then breaks, and the baby gets a fine red rash all over the body (that is why some people like to call this “baby measles”).

If your child develops a high fever and a rash, you must have it seen to. If the doctor suspects measles, this must be confirmed by a test sent to the laboratory. Measles is a notifiable disease which means that the Department of Health needs to be informed and specific protocols have to be followed.

Measles has specific characteristics. As mentioned above, the illness is associated with high fevers and a rash. Over and above this, the patient will have a runny nose, red eyes and a cough. Measles is a very serious illness, and because of this, the diagnosis must be confirmed, and the necessary authorities informed.


Where do I go to get my baby vaccinated?

As stated above, the straight measles vaccine is available from Government Clinics and certain pharmacies. Many of the private healthcare facilities offer the MMR vaccine.

Many of the schools have been offering the booster so if your child’s school is offering the vaccine please have it done.

Parents with concerns about the vaccination schedule should seek the advice of trained Health Care Practitioners. It is really important that the information you receive is up-to-date and scientifically accurate.

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