We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Health minister slams anti vaxxers as measles spikes out of control

20 September 2017 - 17:48 By Katharine Child
Measles. File photo.
Measles. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

The health minister has slammed parents who won't vaccinate their children‚ especially in communities that reject the measles vaccine because it contains gelatine made from pork.

It is the only measles vaccine in the country

There are now 90 suspected measles cases in KwaZulu-Natal‚ with 29 confirmed cases in Durban‚ Pietermaritzburg‚ the Ladysmith area and ILembe district.

The health department said infections were occurring mostly in religious communities. Measles is one of the most infectious viruses in the world. It can cause deafness‚ blindness‚ pneumonia and even death.

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi held nothing back telling parents they needed to prevent their children and others from contracting a preventable but fatal disease.

The Minister warned parents that‚ "vaccine refusal endangers everyone‚ not just the unvaccinated children. Thus‚ you must prioritise the health and wellbeing of your kids by taking them to the nearest clinic or healthcare provider to ensure that are up-to-date with vaccination."

Measles symptoms include a runny nose‚ a cough‚ a rash and flu like symptoms.

Motsoaledi said his department was working with community leaders in affected areas to convince parents and caregivers to "cooperate" and vaccinate their children.

Countrywide‚ the vaccination rate of measles vaccine was only 80%‚ meaning 20% of children aged from nine months to five years are at risk from preventable diseases.

"This year we have targeted to reach more than 5 million children from the age of 6 months up to 59 months or 5 years through our measles vaccination campaign and routine services‚ but we only managed to achieve 80% of our targets due to a number of disturbing factors including anti-vaccine lobby groups and non-cooperative parents who refuse to sign consent forms to permit healthcare workers to vaccinate their children‚" said Motsoaledi.

There was a measles outbreak‚ east of Johannesburg earlier this year and an outbreak in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape in January and February.

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa‚ which is the Council of Muslim Theologians‚ supports the “use of vaccines to prevent the spread of this [measles] virus and to minimise the harm it can cause". “In the event of such a vaccine being not available or financially unbearable‚ there would be leeway to use vaccines that contain Haraam (impermissible) ingredients‚” it says in support of the measles vaccine.