Get up to date with your child’s vaccinations

Posted on 1 October 2020

Now that the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us, there’s no need to delay visits to your paediatrician for your child’s essential vaccinations.

As Dr Jannie van der Vyver, a paediatrician at Mediclinic Midstream explains, immunisation helps to strengthen your child’s immune system to fight diseases such as polio, measles, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tuberculosis (TB) and meningitis. The state immunisation programme in South Africa is the most comprehensive one in developing countries. It’s free and it allows all children to have the benefit of protection from many life-threatening  infections.

A number of additional vaccines or combinations are available in the private sector. ‘As a parent, you can choose the private schedule in its entirety, or choose to supplement the government one,’ says Dr van der Vyver. ‘The process of vaccination involves giving children very small amounts of a biological substance in order for their immune system to prepare itself for the next time it meets the same infectious agent.’

Ideally, children should have all their vaccinations on time, according to the recommended schedule, but unfortunately many children either miss a couple of doses or do not get any for a number of reasons. When the opportunity arises, the schedule should be completed. ‘Each situation involving a catch-up is unique and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis,’ says Dr van der Vyver. ‘Decisions need to be made on how best to protect the child with what’s available.’

Keeping on schedule with your child’s immunisations is important because if a vaccination is given too early, your baby may not develop the expected resistance to the illness because her immune system is still too immature. If an immunisation is given too late, your baby may develop that illness before receiving the vaccination. If immunisations are given too soon after the previous immunisation, for example, if DPaT immunisations are given a week apart, your baby may not develop the expected resistance to the illness.

A vaccine can be:

  • A live, but weakened, organism, such as oral polio vaccine
  • A dead organism, such as intramuscular polio vaccine
  • Part of an organism, such as hepatitis B vaccine (surface antigen)
  • Part of an organism to which a further substance is added, such as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • An inactivated toxic substance produced by an organism, such as diphtheria and pertussis vaccines.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people chose to delay or postpone regular visits to the paediatrician or baby clinic in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus. However, there’s no longer any reason to delay seeking medical treatment as Mediclinic hospitals have strict policies and procedures in place to limit the risk of infection. Now is the time to get your child’s immunisation schedule on track.


In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.