Children's vaccine shortage frustrates Limpopo parents

27 January 2021 - 06:00 By shonisani tshikalange
The department of health in Limpopo has acknowledged shortages of some children's vaccines in the province's health-care facilities. Stock photo.
The department of health in Limpopo has acknowledged shortages of some children's vaccines in the province's health-care facilities. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/David Izquierdo Roger

Children in parts of Limpopo have not been able to be vaccinated because of stock shortages.

But the provincial health department said it had been able to secure stock of the vaccines — which included BCG, Hexaxem, Vaccine PCV and Rota Virus — and expected them to be available by the end of the week.

“The department of health in Limpopo has acknowledged the shortages of some children's vaccines in the province's health-care facilities. The shortage is because suppliers have been struggling to obtain vaccines in the market because of Covid-19 inconveniences,” the department said.

Rumani Mahwasane, a parent who was affected by the shortage, said it was frustrating to be sent back from the clinic without her child getting vaccinated.

The 43-year-old said she has been going back and forth at the clinic since November.

“I have gone there for three months and they had no vaccine. It is painful because I had to take a taxi a long way. It is not fair as we are using transport money for nothing. It is also not safe - we are putting our children’s lives at risk because we are going to clinics and getting no service while exposing our children to illnesses,” she said.

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Mahwasane said she has visited two clinics around Thohoyandou, with no luck.

“Since November, they said they had no vaccine. Up to now we haven’t had any proper communication, which is why we are going back and forth without getting any help. Now we have to wait and keep checking to see if they will have,” she said.

Department spokesperson Neil Shikwamabana said they have received reports of shortages from various facilities.

“The demand differs from facility to facility. However, we have received a report of shortages from various facilities about children’s vaccines. The issues are that we have a shortage of them.

“Some [clinics] were able to still sustain themselves with the previous stock depending on demand in their areas. For the past two to three weeks we have been receiving complaints about shortages,” he said.

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said the department would embark on a catch-up programme to address the backlogs in vaccination of children who have missed their dose.

“We would like to genuinely apologise for this inconvenience. We want to reassure our communities that all children who missed their dosages will receive them during our catch up programme,” said Ramathuba.

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