The Northern Cape department of health will be commemorating the annual World Polio day with the rest of the world on Sunday 24 October.
The aim of the commemoration is to increase awareness about the Polio Virus and to encourage further actions to reduce it from spreading.
Polio is a highly infectious disease which targets the nervous system and can cause irreversible damage.
Polio affects children mainly below the age of five, but immune and partially immune patients can still be affected by the disease.
The most visible sign of polio is paralysis.
The danger of polio is that it shows no symptoms and can spread rapidly before paralysis is visible.
Department spokesperson Lulu Mxekezo indicated that those affected by polio are often not aware that they have the disease.
She said that it is spread through human to human contact.
The disease can only be prevented through vaccination.
“In South Africa Polio Vaccination is administered according to the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) Revised Childhood Immunization Schedule (2015).
“Polio Vaccine is administered orally (Oral Polio drops) at birth (OPV 0), six weeks (OPV 1), intramuscularly using the Hexavalent Vaccine, exaxim) given at 6, 12, 14 weeks and another dose at 18 months,” explained Mxekezo.
The department highlighted that It is important that the child receives all the doses to be adequately protected against the disease.
“Polio can also be given as part of a booster campaign as an additional dose to the routine vaccine received.
“The wild poliovirus was certified as having been eradicated in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) African Region (Mostly African Countries in the World).
“This was announced at the WHO Regional Committee for Africa session in August 2020.
“This milestone is very important for the Strengthening of Routine Immunisation and building Strong Primary Health care systems,” explained Mxekezo.
She highlighted the importance of all parents and guardians to ensure that children receive all immunisation as indicated on the EPI Schedule.
She said this will eliminate the illnesses that can be avoided.
“Vaccines work as polio has been eradicated in the country through vaccines.
“During the Covid -19 pandemic it is vital to vaccinate all those eligible to eliminate severe illness and death.
“It is important to continue with regular hand washing, social distancing and masking, even if vaccinated.”