When should immunisations be given?

The recommended schedule for immunisation lists the age at which specific immunisations should be given. Some immunisations need only be given once while others have to be repeated a number of times.

The schedule for the immunisation of children in South Africa (Table 2.1) is as follows:

  • Polio 0 is the dose of polio vaccine at birth
  • DPT 1 is the first dose of DPT
  • Hepatitis B 2 is second dose of hepatitis B vaccine
  • Hib 3 is the third dose of Hib vaccine, etc.

The primary immunisations are given between birth and 9 months. The immunisations given at 18 months and 5 years (polio, measles, diphtheria and tetanus) are often called ‘boosters’ as they help to improve the immune response produced by the initial course of immunisation.

Table 1. Table 2.1: The schedule for the immunisation of children in South Africa
When Vaccines
At birth BCG
Oral polio 0 (OPV 0)
At 6 weeks Oral polio 1 (OPV 1)
DPT 1 (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus)
Hepatitis B 1
Hib 1
At 10 weeks Oral polio 2 (OPV 2)
Hepatitis B 2
Hib 2
At 14 weeks Oral polio 3 (OPV 3)
Hepatitis B 3
Hib 3
At 9 months Measles 1
At 18 months Oral polio 4 (OPV4)
Measles 2 or MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
At 5 years Oral polio 5 (OPV 5)
DT 5 (diphtheria, tetanus)

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