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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist


Covid-19 vaccines to expire end October

The department plans to procure vaccines for administration in the public sector and will work with the private sector to facilitate availability. 


The Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer, is set to expire at the end of this month, with Johnson and Johnson doses expiring in February next year.

This was revealed by Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla at a media briefing last week. He said his department had decided to make some changes to the Covid-19 vaccinations, which included transitioning from a mass vaccination campaign to integrating vaccinations into routine primary healthcare services, said Dr Phaala. 

The minister made the announcement after a meeting with Health MECs held in Centurion.

“This is in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. The EVDS (Electronic Vaccination Data System) will continue to record all Covid-19 vaccinations until 29 February 2024, thereafter those vaccinated will receive a paper-record of vaccination, but they will still be able to download vaccination certificates as long as they have at least one vaccination code,” said Phaahla .

READ ALSO: 1 266 new Covid cases reported in SA, still no need to panic

The department planned to procure vaccines for administration in the public sector and would work with the private sector to facilitate availability. 

“All restrictions limiting procurement of vaccines by private sector providers will be lifted. The investigation and causality assessment of Covid-19 vaccination-related Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs) will continue and mechanisms for processing No Fault Compensation Scheme claims will be retained,” he said. 

New vaccines to be included

Meanwhile, to improve coverage of existing vaccines, the Department of Health is set to introduce new vaccines to be included in the routine expanded programme on immunisation at a cost of R3.5 billion.

Phaahla said South Africa continued to experience outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, despite a strong childhood vaccination programme.

He said there was an ongoing need to improve coverage of existing vaccines as well as adding new vaccines to the expanded programme on immunisation schedule. 

 Phaahla said the department was introducing better vaccines to prevent whooping cough, tetanus and Diphtheria and reduce the chances of these conditions resurfacing within the communities. 

“We are also introducing a combination vaccine of measles and rubella that will protect young girls, particularly during pregnancy which may lead to birth defects,” Phaahla said. 

He said all these changes, recommended by the ministerial-appointed National Advisory Group on Immunisation (NAGI), will be implemented with effect from January 2024. 

READ ALSO: Covid and SA need calm heads

Expansion of online birth registrations rollout

The Minister also announced that the Department of Home Affairs had made budget provision for the set-up and operational costs for the expansion of Online Registration System by an additional 91 health facilities during 2023/24 financial year. This would ensure that all births are registered on time. There were already 161 health facilities with ability to issue birth certificates on the spot.

“These facilities will be allocated full-time Home Affairs officials to provide birth registration service during office hours. The establishment of the system in these new facilities will commence by the end of October 2023. This initiative will go a long way in providing early birth registration,” Phaahla said.

Phaahla also gave an update on various issues affecting the public health system, including cost containment measures; audit outcomes and performance against targets and medico-legal claims.

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