Immunisation | Western Cape Government

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Immunisation saves millions of lives every year. Immunisation/vaccination protects adults and children from dangerous  diseases by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection. Vaccines also helps prevent and control infectious disease outbreaks.

What is immunisation?
The Department of Health strongly advises mothers to protect their children from infectious diseases by getting them vaccinated from birth to when they are 12 years old. Vaccination is free of charge at all government/state health facilities. The Department also runs immunisation campaigns and health workers are sent to nursery schools and creches to immunise the children, where capacity allows.
Immunisations are safe. Although side effects following immunisations may occur, they are usually mild and clear up quickly. Contact your clinic for advice if you are concerned.

WATCH: Immunisation saves lives

Which diseases do children get vaccinated against?
Caused by germs (polioviruses), which attack nerves, causing weakness or paralysis of the leg and/or arm and if severe, may involve respiratory or breathing muscles.
Causes high fever and a rash and can lead to diarrhoea and dehydration, deafness, eye complications, pneumonia, brain damage and even death.

Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib): 
Is a serious illness that affects mainly children under the age of 5 years, and death from Hib disease is common in children under the age of 1.
Hepatitis B: 
Is an infection of the liver, which can cause liver damage, liver cancer and death later in life.
Pertussis (whooping cough): 
Starts with a headache, fever and cough. The strenuous coughing bouts make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe.
Tetanus (lockjaw):
Occurs when a toxin produced by a tetanus germ from the soil enters a cut or wound. The germ can cause muscle spasms, breathing and heart problems, and death. The chances of dying from this condition are very high.
Is a dangerous bacterial disease, which makes it difficult to breathe. Children who survive diphtheria disease suffer permanent damage such as blindness, deafness and brain damage.
Tuberculosis (TB):
Is a serious disease that can affect people of all ages. Those that get TB suffer from coughing for a long time, chest pain, sweating at night, weight loss and even death if left untreated. In young children, the TB germ may infect the brain and cause meningitis, or it could also enter the blood and spread to other parts of the body. TB can kill young people. The best protection for young children against opportunistic diseases caused by the TB germ is the BCG vaccine.
Usually, babies who were not given the BCG vaccine at birth will be immunised when they are taken to the clinic for the next immunisation visit, at 6 weeks of age. Any baby under 1 year who did not get the BCG vaccine at birth must be taken to the nearest clinic, where the vaccine will be given.
The Department also vaccinates against Rotavirus (one of the viruses that cause diarrhoea) and Pneumococcal disease (e.g. meningitis, otitis media, pneumonia, bacteraemia).


ImmunisationWhich symptoms do children display after getting vaccinated? 
You can discuss with the Health Care Worker when the child attends for vaccination. If an attenuated (weakened, live virus) vaccine is administered, the child may develop mild symptoms of such a disease (e.g. fever and diarrhoea following the Rotavirus vaccine). 

What happens when a child is late with getting their vaccinations? 
You can discuss this with the Health Care Worker at the clinic. Catch-up is different for the various vaccines. 
What happens if you lose the Road to Health book? 
You can discuss this with the Health Care Worker. It’ll depend on the age of the child. If the child is eligible, a copy of the Road to Health Booklet may be issued and information in the book may be updated as deemed necessary. 
When children go for their immunisations, what other things are assessed? 
Besides growth assessments such as weight, head circumference and height, the following might be done: 
  • screening for diseases or exposure thereof may be done, 
  • depending on the age of the child, or if there are concerns noted, certain developmental assessments may be done, 
  • deworming every 6 months (age dependant)

What to bring along when getting your child/ren vaccinated?
If it’s the first visit to the clinic, a folder will be opened. You will need your ID, your child’s birth certificate and, the Road to Health Booklet (RTHB). Only the RTHB is needed for follow up visits.

What do you need to do post-immunisation?
Discuss with the Health Care Worker. Do NOT apply ointment/Vicks to the vaccination site

COVID vaccine and children?
Currently, children aren't eligible for the COVID vaccine.
There's also a distinction between the COVID vaccine and the routine childhood vaccines.
Visit the COVID vaccine website for vaccine information.

When must children be vaccinated?

You can download the full periodic programme for immunisations below.

EPI Schedule
DTP-IPV-Hib-HBV is a six-in-one vaccine
DTP = vaccine against diphteria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus)
IPV = vaccine against inactive polio virus
Hib = vaccine against Haemophiles influenza type B.
HBV = vaccines against hepatitis B






For more information on immunisation, contact your local clinic or the

South African Vaccination and Immunisation Centre (SAVIC)

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)

All the vaccines in the routine schedule are free of charge at all primary health care facilities and centres.

The content on this page was last updated on 23 August 2021