Panic over new vaccination

Panic over new vaccination

MASERU – PANIC and anxiety have greeted the announcement of a new vaccination campaign, as parents fear a repeat of the bungling that characterised the previous campaign.
The Ministry of Health said the vaccination campaign starts next month. The vaccination against rotavirus comes six months after a rubella immunisation programme that left the Ministry of Health with a public relations dilemma.

Rotavirus vaccine is an immunisation that prevents diarrhoea caused by a virus called the rotavirus, a germ that causes diarrhoea mostly in babies and young children.
The virus can be spread when one does not wash their hands or practise good hygiene. The ministry is anxious about launching a mass vaccination campaign like it did with measles and rubella in February so it has decided to introduce the Rotavirus vaccination to individual parents when they take their children to clinics.
Already, some parents are attacking the campaign on social media.

“Why do these people want to kill our children? I wish they don’t find even a single child. We should refuse,” said a woman in a Facebook post.
“I have taken care of my two kids for a long time (after the rubella vaccine). Let them stay away. I’m not ready to do that again,” another said.
“I choose to be stubborn!” commented another. Some parents whom thepost picked randomly from the telephone directory book said the ministry should hold awareness campaigns for parents before the vaccinations starts.

Hoohlo Hoohlo said he hopes the ministry has carried out thorough research before deciding on the vaccination programme.
“The next step should be to hold public gatherings with the parents and sensitise them,” Hoohlo said.
“People are reluctant to have their children vaccinated if their fears are not allayed,” he said.

Thabo Rantsieli, a parent whose child was vaccinated in the last campaign, said he expected the ministry to conduct thorough research before launching a new campaign.
“My child was affected during the last vaccination but I think if we are properly told what to expect it will be better,” Rantsieli said.
The ministry has appealed to the media to help encourage parents to accept the vaccination programme.

The Health Ministry’s Director General, Dr ’Nyane Letsie, said the ministry had in the past erred by failing to involve the media from the onset of the campaign.
“What happened in the campaign taught us how important it was to have involved the media at an earlier stage before the administration of the vaccination,” Letsie said.
“I take full responsibility as the DG for what happened then. It shouldn’t have happened had we capacitated you,” she said.

Letsie denied vaccinations had been wrongly administered because “comprehensive research is done before final decisions of introducing such a vaccination” are taken.
“We, together with our health partners, had done such research,” Letsie said. Susan Ramakhunoane, a public health nurse working on the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), urged parents to throw away the fear and embrace the benefits of immunisation.

“It’s not every sickness of diarrhoea that is caused by the rotavirus but only severe form of diarrhoea is caused by the rotavirus,” Ramakhunoane said.
Ramakhunoane said the ministry’s surveillance team picked the virus when it emerged that an increasing number of children were dying of diarrhoea in Lesotho.
“Diarrhoea is among the top 10 causes of death in Lesotho,” Letsie said. Every child, regardless of their health status, will be given the vaccination.
Ramakhunoane said there are no serious side effects associated with the vaccine.

Rose Moremoholo

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