LED by the DA’s mayoral candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay, Athol Trollip, and the party’s shadow health MEC, CelesteBarker, mothers with their babies marched to the regional offices of the Department of Health yesterday to protest against a decision to withdraw all government vaccines from private clinics.
Barker said the decision, announced earlier this year, was jeopardising the department’s high coverage rate in the region.
According to the provincial department, it had reached the 85% coverage rate set as a goal.
“The implications of this decision are serious and life-threatening. Negative spin-off of the decision to stop providing immunisation stock to private clinics makes life tough for working moms who depend on private clinics for immunisation.
“It also makes private immunisation unaffordable at about R1 800 per shot,” Barker said.
Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the decision stood.
“To assist moms we have instructed all [state] clinics in Nelson Mandela Bay to do vaccinations every day,” he said.
Barker believed an amicable solution could be found.
She said it would make sense to draw up schedules at the clinics that would suit the working hours of most mothers.
She also suggested that dedicated baby clinics be opened.
“To prevent an outbreak of measles in the Eastern Cape, we urge the Department of Health to continue to provide free [vaccines] to private clinics until it has put plans, staff and infrastructure in place, so the health of our people is not compromised and service is not disrupted.
“If this is not done, the responsibility for a life-threatening outbreak will land squarely on the shoulders of a department that didn’t think . . . and didn’t heed the voice of the people.”