What is the difference between government and private vaccines?

What is the difference between government and private vaccines?

Many parents are concerned as they have heard that there are two different vaccination programmes and they don’t know which one to opt for. The good news is that this not really the case. All children in South Africa are immunised according to the government’s vaccination program. In addition to this there are extra vaccines that you can choose to give if you want to. Below more information to help you to make an informed decision on what to give your baby.

What is the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) Schedule? 

The South African Department of Health (DOH) has determined an immunisation schedule based on diseases most prevalent in our country and on the resources they have available for immunisation. These vaccines are available for free at government clinics, or at private clinics which have licenses to receive government stock. They protect children against the most important and prevalent diseases. These vaccinations are also required when you send your child to school.

IF you immunise your child at a private/pharmacy clinic that are not registered to receive government stock you will have to purchase the vaccines in addition to the consultation fee, which can be very expensive. Some of these clinics may offer a vaccine from another company, but that targets the same disease. Ultimately though, vaccines are made by only a few international companies and apart from small differences, give similar coverage against the diseases they are made for. We are very blessed that Parentwood Clinic is licensed to receive government stock and that we can offer these to our clients without additional cost.

What are private/optional vaccines? 

These are vaccines that are available on the market, but not included in the government EPI. It may be because a disease is not considered to be a major threat to the population, or because the vaccine is still fairly new and not yet approved for the schedule, or simply because the DOH doesn’t have the resources to provide this vaccine to all South Africans. In private clinics parents have the option to also give their children these vaccinations, at an additional cost.

How do I obtain these vaccines? 

You can purchase the vaccines from Parentwood clinic without a prescription and pay for them with your consultation fee. Depending on your medical aid we may be able to claim the amount directly on your behalf. Alternatively you will receive an invoice that you can submit to the medical aid for reimbursement. If you are not on a medical aid these vaccines are for your own cost.

How important are the optional vaccines? 

Of course no parent wants his/her child to get sick. However, there are many factors to consider when deciding on which extra vaccines to give.

  • The biggest consideration is financial circumstances as not all families can afford private vaccines.
  • A child that is in daycare or in school is more exposed than a little one still staying at home.
  • A breastfed baby do receive some immunity from mom, compared to formula milk.
  • Babies who were born prematurely or who suffer from other medical conditions definitely need extra protection.
  • Most importantly perhaps one should also consider the disease for which the vaccines are given, as some are more serious than others, though all have the potential to cause complications.

PARENTS ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO GIVE EXTRA VACCINES. But if you can afford it and want to, private vaccines can offer your little one extra protection. The additional vaccines (excluding travel vaccines) currently available in South Africa are against:

  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Mumps, measles and german measles
  • Chickenpox
  • Hepatitis A
  • Human Papilloma Virus

Click here for more information on each of these conditions.

Leave Comment