Nationwide booster shot shortage

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A local Makhanda (Grahamstown) parent approached Grocott’s Mail with deep concerns after failing to find the necessary vaccine for their 6 year-old child. According to the 2010 Expanded  Programme on  Immunisation in  South Africa (EPI-SA) guidelines; 6 year-olds require a combined booster vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria. However, allegedly this vaccine has been unavailable in government clinics and hospitals for more than six months.

The parent said that the local government clinics, Settler’s Hospital paediatric ward and Click’s pharmacy were out of stock, and were not sure when any would arrive. Our reporter phoned Click’s and was told that the government clinics should have the vaccine, but have been out of stock since August of last year.

According to Mohamed Docrat, Makana Sub-District Pharmacy Manager, the stock-out of the vaccine (Td vaccine Tetanus & reduced amount of diphtheria vaccine) is a nationwide problem. Docrat said that last year the manufacturer of the vaccine could no longer supply; forcing national government to put in a Section 21 authorisation to procure the vaccines from an overseas company.

Docrat added that a few weeks ago Sub-Districts were requested to provide national with the quantities of the vaccine that were needed. Currently, Sub-Districts are still waiting.

“No other vaccines are affected, as far as I know”, said Docrat.

According to EPI-SA guidelines, children have been vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria four previous times (four series DTaP-IPV//HIB); and the requirement for both 6 and 12 years is a booster.

*Grocott’s Mail cannot confirm at this time if there are other alternative vaccines or private medical practises that may have the booster available.

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