No more free vaccines at private clinics

2015-05-13 06:00

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THE Eastern Cape Department of Health has stopped supplying private clinics and pharmacies with free government vaccines, which means parents will now either have to pay vast amounts to have their babies and children vaccinated at these facilities, or make use of government clinics where the vaccines are still available to the public at no cost.

This decision was made by the department because they were “not comfortable with the idea that private clinics and pharmacies were charging a levy on vaccines that we are providing to them free of charge,” said Sizwe Kupelo, spokesperson of the EC Department of Health.

“These vaccines are available at all public health facilities at no cost,” Kupelo added.

Dewald van Eck, owner and pharmacist at Klinicare Lorraine, said they used to provide the free state stock vaccines and then only charged a levy.

“This was a service we delivered to the public, because government clinics are often so busy and people don’t want to stand in long queues,” Van Eck said.

But Kupelo said that was “an unfortunate excuse”. “We are doing everything in our power to improve our services. Currently we cover 84% of the total population. If a person has a problem with long queues at the government clinics, they can pay for the vaccines at the private clinic.”

According to Van Eck, parents who opt to make use of private clinics or pharmacies can expect to pay the following fees for vaccinations* (estimated costs):

Babies

6 weeks – R1 500

10 weeks – R420

14 weeks – R1 500

9 months – R900

18 months – R600

Children

6 years – R320

Total = R5 240

“Most medical aids do pay for these vaccines, but not all of them, so some parents will have to pay cash,” Van Eck said.

Could this mean that parents would choose then not to have their children vaccinated?

Not necessarily, believes Teresa Hayward, registered private midwife in Port Elizabeth.

“I don’t think people will not have their babies vaccinated as parents want the best for their children and will either use medical aid or go to government clinics. This is a new practice anyway. Private clinics did not always get free vaccinations,” she said.

As a health professional, Hayward said she is very pro vaccinations. “Your baby does need these injections as these diseases can really harm or kill your baby. Babies are most at risk in the first two years therefore we recommend protecting your baby as soon as possible. But the decision remains that of the parent whether to vaccinate or not.”

Kupelo in the meantime assured that all government clinics have enough stock available.

) The EC Department of Health’s call centre number is 080 003 2364.

*

Vaccinations recommended by the South African Government

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