Clinics run out of vaccines

MASERU — Some clinics in Lesotho have run of DPT, a crucial vaccine used to protect young children against Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus (DPT) diseases, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
DPT is a vaccine that is given children six weeks after birth. 
It is mandatory that a child is given the vaccine to protect them against the three life-threatening diseases.
DPT is also administered after ten weeks and 14 weeks after birth.
Children who do not get DPT mean that they are at the risk of catching Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus.
Yet most clinics in Maseru and other districts have been turning mothers away because they have run out of this important vaccine.
By Wednesday this week LDF, Thamae, Khubetsoana and Qoaling clinics did not have the vaccines.
At some clinics they said they had only a few dosages left.
A LDF they said they are not sure when it will be available. An official at Thamae clinic said the vaccine was likely to be available in January next year.
At Khubetsoana clinic they said they went to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital for supplies last week but they were told that the vaccine was not available.
They said they were not sure when it will be available. Qoaling Clinic said they did not have the vaccines.  
Maputsoe clinic said their Hlotse Hospital had informed them that the vaccine is not yet available.
Other clinics said the shortage started about four weeks ago. At other clinics the whole regime of vaccines is not available.
For instance, at Thamae Clinic nurses said they did BCG, OPV, HIB, Hep B and the one for Measles.
Officials at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Lesotho’s only referral hospital, said they had recently taken delivery of the vaccine.
The Lesotho Times spoke to a number of worried mothers who said their children have been sent back home several times without getting the vaccine.
They said they were afraid that their children would catch A concerned Lisebo Moseme from Thamae said nurses at the clinic had told her that her three-month-old baby will only be able to get the DPT in January next year because that is when it will be available.
Moseme said she had visited Thamae Clinic three times but each time she got no joy.
She said she was now worried about her baby since “nurses have told me that DPT is one of the most important vaccines”.
“I am very worried because after the birth of my baby I was told never to miss the injection.” 
‘Makhothatso Lepota said she had travelled from Maputsoe, her home town, to Maseru hoping that her baby would get the vaccination.
“I came to Maseru with the hope that I would get it but unfortunately I was told that it was not available.”
The spokesperson of the ministry of health Tumisang Mokoai was not available to comment.
Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
Tetanus causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the person cannot open his mouth or swallow.
Tetanus can lead to death.
Pertussis (Whooping cough) causes coughing spells that make it hard for infants to eat, drink or breathe.
It can last for weeks. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage and even death.
Five doses are commonly given to children between the ages of two months to five-years-old.
They provide lifelong immunity, in most cases to diphtheria and pertussis, but do not provide lifelong immunity to tetanus.
Tetanus vaccinations need to be repeated every 8-10 years in order to remain effective.

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