Government versus Private vaccines

There is a lot of confusion surrounding Government and Private vaccines. Here are your most common questions answered:

What is the difference between the Government schedule and the Private schedule?

Every country has an EPI schedule ( Expanded Programme for Immunisation). Each country’s EPI schedule will be slightly different depending on what diseases are prevalent.

The schedule usually covers the severe illnesses that can afflict the majority of the population or those that can be fatal.

South Africa has an EPI that everyone should follow. There are however some vaccines not on the national EPI, that can be purchased privately should you wish to supplement the current government schedule.

These include:

Hepatitis A. This is a travel and baby clinic vaccine. It is not on the government schedule but worth giving as we do still see outbreaks Hepatitis A.

Chickenpox. This is not a fatal disease which is why it excluded from the EPI schedule. It is however recommended as it could prevent shingles later on in life as well as preventing scratching and scarring should a baby acquire chickenpox.

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Government schedule only covers measles as it is the most important and it can be fatal. Mumps and German Measles are however recommended.

  • Mumps, especially for boys, is important as a severe case of mumps could cause sterility.
  • Rubella ( also known as German Measles) is very important for girls as contracting Rubella when pregnant can affect the unborn baby).

Menactra – Meningococcal Meningitis. Although not yet on the EPI, it will most likely be included in the future. It is also relatively new on the private schedule but well worth for protecting your baby against meningitis.

Baby being vaccinated

Why are Government vaccines cheaper than Private vaccines? Are they inferior?

Absolutely not. Government vaccines are cheaper because they are subsidised. You pay only for the administering of the vaccine, not the vaccine itself.

Why do prices vary so much between clinics?

There are 3 tiers of pricing:

1. Government clinics. These are spread around the country and offer their services for free. Anyone may use these services.

2. Private clinics, registered with the government. These clinics are given government stock and charge a small fee for administering the vaccines. They are not allowed to charge more than R110 per government vaccine. They also stock all the private vaccines. These prices are determined by what the clinic was able to purchase them for.

3. Private clinics who are not registered with the government. These clinics only stock private vaccines. The entire schedule will be available, but not at a reduced rate.

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