Shots in the dark? Snapshots of Health-e investigation

Health-e found otavrius vaccine stock outs at William Eadie in February 2014
Of five clinics surveyed, three reported cold chain problems, or problems related to vaccine storage. All were outside of Gauteng
Of five clinics surveyed, three reported cold chain problems, or problems related to vaccine storage. All were outside of Gauteng

Gauteng: In January, one-year-old Johannesburg West Rand toddler Adam Liss develops measles, followed by his father. Wife Andrea tweets, “My kid is one big RASH!! Poor kiddo #teething #measles.”

In Soshanguve outside Pretoria, a child in Matilda Mothapo’s day care centre develops measles late last year.

A catch-up campaign by local nurses to the clinic likely comes too late and eight more of centre’s children come down with a rash. Monitoring of a nearby clinic found no stock-out or storage problems.

Eastern Cape: One clinic reports a two-week polio vaccine stock out and a fridge that is ten degrees too hot for vaccines. Another clinic shows a month-long stock-out of tetanus vaccines while a health facility in Mqanduli outside Mthatha had a broken gas fridge. Local nurses complain that Mthatha depot packers regularly pack vaccines together with incorrect.

In Bizana, about 220 kilometres south of Durban near Kokstad, a clinic reported a two-week rotavirus vaccine stock-out. The clinic also lacks a refrigerator thermometer needed to monitor and record vaccine temperatures.

Limpopo: One clinic reports stock outs of tetanus and polio vaccines and a vaccine fridge door that cannot close. Another clinic reports lack of rotavirus vaccine. Several health facilities report refrigerator temperatures above the 2 to 8 degree range, according to monitors. However at Matavhela Clinic, about 230 kilometeres northeast of Polokwane, patients and health workers reported that they have gone at least three months without stock outs.

Mpumalanga: At one Ermelo clinic, about 200 kilometers southwest of Nelspruit, a vaccine stock-out triggers an emergency ordering process where nurses can request stock directly from the district pharmacist instead of a medicine depot. These arrive the following day however mothers arriving on the day of the stock-out must still be turned away and asked to come back, health workers said.

Reporting by Kerry Cullinan, Laura Lopez Gonzalez, Tshilidzi Tuwani, Ziyanda Masinyane, Tandeka Hlongwane, Mtshana Mvlisi, Ndivhuwo Musetha, Surprise Namalale, and Cynthia Maseko. 

Read more from Health-e’s investigation into vaccination in South Africa “Shots in the dark?” as part of the African Story Challenge:


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