Routine immunisation services to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic

The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the declaration of a National State of Disaster in South Africa. A nation-wide lockdown is ongoing since 26 March.

Immunisation is an essential health service. Vaccines are critical for preventing life-threatening infectious diseases that have high mortality in children, including measles, rotavirus and others. Thus it is essential for every child to receive their full schedule of vaccines.

During the lockdown period, immunisation visits should continue uninterrupted. Contact between individuals should be minimised by measures including scheduled appointments, social distancing, hand hygiene and cloth masks.

In hospitals and obstetric units, newborn vaccination will continue as per the Expanded Programme on Immunisation schedule.

Road to Health Booklets of children presenting to a health centre, including hospitals, should be thoroughly checked for missed immunisations. Children must be caught up with all vaccinations for which they are age-eligible, unless there are specific contraindications.

For medical queries regarding catch-up immunisation, contact Amayeza Vaccine helpline vaccines@amayeza-info.co.za; 0860 160 160

Note: This guidance is aligned with current guidance from the National Department of Health and National Advisory Group on Immunisation. The guidance may be updated as the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 unfolds.

Dr Melinda Suchard
Head, Centre for Vaccines and Immunology
National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Division of the National Health Laboratory Service
Johannesburg, South Africa

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