Polio vaccine shortages nationwide - KZN

2014-06-04 08:18

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Johannesburg - The shortage of polio vaccine in hospitals was a nationwide problem which originates from the supplier, the KwaZulu-Natal health department said on Wednesday.

"The [department] has noted with concern a misleading statement issued by the Democratic Alliance - claiming that the shortage of the polio vaccine is being treated by the department in a 'frivolous or trivial manner' and that the department is responsible for the shortage of the polio vaccine.

"The shortage of the polio vaccine is a nationwide problem which originates from the supplier of the vaccine, Biovac Institute," department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said in a statement.

Newcastle hospital runs out of vaccine

On Tuesday, the DA's health spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said the Newcastle provincial hospital had run out of the orally administered polio vaccine in mid-April.

"This means that all babies born since then did not receive this vital vaccination before being discharged," he said at the time.

He said he had been told babies were being discharged and their parents were being advised to go to the nearest clinic to get the vaccine.

"Whether parents have done this, whether clinics had the vaccine or whether it was available later at the six-week vaccine schedule, must be investigated urgently," Keeka said.

"That a vaccine specifically for new babies is not available at the hospital is scandalous."

Marked booklets

Mkhwanazi said that in order to address shortages, the department had conducted an audit of stock levels.

The Road of Health booklet for each newborn is clearly marked to indicate where no polio vaccination has been received and health facilities are keeping track of the details accordingly, he said.

"Once the stock is received in the province, the department will utilise the Community Care Giver Programme to trace the mothers and babies and ensure that the necessary polio vaccine is given," he said.

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that usually strikes children younger than five years and is most often spread through infected water. There is no specific cure, but several vaccines exist.
Read more on:    health

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