What the National Health Department is doing about the BCG vaccine shortage

The Department of Health has confirmed that the global shortage of BCG vaccines has affected health facilities in the country. The BCG vaccine, which is effective in fighting certain strains of tuberculosis (TB) and forms part of the Department of Health’s Immunisation Programme, is typically administered to babies within 48 hours after birth.

Dr Yogan Pillay, the Deputy Director-General at the National Department of Health told CapeTalk’s Kieno Kammies that they will be moving the remaining vaccine supplies around the country to limit the impact of the shortage.

We have tried to look around the globe for BCG vaccine sources. We have found two. The first is Unicef, a UN agency that stockpiles children’s vaccines, and we have managed to get some vaccines from them. We have also contacted a company called Cipla, who will immediately provide us with 6 months’ supply of stock by the end of May.

According to Pillay the stocks that have been sourced from other parts of the world will only arrive at the end of May, and will be made available after a short window in which they will be tested at the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance. Parents who are unable to vaccinate their children during this time will be called back to health facilities when they are made available to the public.

In the meantime, he urges families to take all the usual precautions for airborne infections, such as cough hygiene.

Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:

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