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Immunisation Catch Up Campaign

The Annual Vaccination Catch-up Campaign, which was held around Tshwane in August 2018, is an ongoing commitment of staff and students from the Division of Public Health Pharmacy and Management and the South African Vaccination and Immunisation Centre (SAVIC) at SMU, in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health (DoH), Tshwane District Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to increase herd immunity and ensure that children, families and communities are protected against vaccine preventable diseases. The aim of the campaign is to improve access to vaccines, vaccinate children who missed their scheduled vaccinations and to create awareness amongst parents and caregivers about the importance of vaccination.
The campaign was very well received by the communities and its success was evident from the 675 children reached over three Saturdays in August 2018. The first campaign was held at Mabopane Big Save where 151 children were reached on 4 August 2018, followed by 187 children reached at Sekampaneng Primary School, Hammanskraal on 11 August 2018 and 337 children reached at Calvary Christ Mission Church in Lusaka, Mamelodi East on 18 August 2018. Over 50% of all children reached, received vaccines, the majority of whom received tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine given at 5-6 years and at 12 years of age, followed by the measles vaccine. The campaign team conducted a small survey amongst some of the attending parents to determine why they brought their children to the campaign. Common responses from parents were that they work during the week and cannot take their children to the clinic, and that Saturdays were more convenient for them, while other parents said they heard about the campaign and decided to bring their children.
The initiative would not have been possible without the generous support from Sanofi, SAVIC and Big Save through private-public partnerships. Neither would the campaign have been such a great success without the commitment and participation of dedicated nurses from the Tshwane District EPI who vaccinated children and provided Vitamin A supplementation and de-worming. Groups of enthusiastic students from the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Virology at SMU walked the streets of these communities, going to schools, crèches and to local community radio stations, spreading the message about the campaign. On the actual campaign days, they also walked from house-to-house, informing parents and caregivers about the campaign site in the community and the importance of vaccination.
Marketing for the campaign started on 27 July 2018 and continued until 18 August 2018 on social media, radio stations, posters and distribution of pamphlets. Big Save Mabopane also sent SMSs to crèches in the Mabopane area. Adverts were aired on Soshanguve-, Moretele- and Mamelodi Community Radio covering the period of the campaign. The campaign activities and all relevant stakeholders were well represented on appropriate social media platforms for the duration of the campaign using the following hashtags: #VaccineWork, #VCP18, #Everychild, #EndVPDs, #Health4all and #WeareSMU.

An infographic was designed to remind parents and caregivers of the child’s next scheduled vaccination. This was made available in the form of a fridge magnet and given to all children who visited the campaign. The Mabopane campaign was published by the Rekord newspaper, while a report on the overall campaign will appeared in the SMU’s quarterly newsletter ‘Focus on SMU’, Volume 2, 8th Edition, October 2018.