There was a shortage of influenza vaccines in the private health sector, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Thursday.
The institute said in a statement that a number of reasons had caused the shortage, including production problems because one of the strains had not grown well.
Some manufacturers had also switched to producing the swine flu vaccine last year, while there has been an increase in the demand for vaccines due to last year's Influenza A, or swine flu, pandemic.
Public vaccination programme
Another factor which had led to the shortage was the large purchase for the public vaccination programme.
Spokeswomen Nombuso Shabalala said this year's flu vaccine contained the Influenza A, or swine flu, strain. It is expected to be the prevalent strain of flu, but it is not expected to be severe.
"There is some uncertainty regarding the influenza strains of the forthcoming season but it is likely that the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) strain also known as 'swine flu' will in all probability reappear as the dominant influenza strain this winter," Shabalala said.
This was based on what was experienced during the northern hemisphere winter season.
No significant change in virus
"No significant changes in the virus to suggest an increase in severity or a change in drug resistance were identified during the northern hemisphere influenza season."
She urged people who were at risk to have themselves vaccinated.
"While the majority of persons will not develop complications of influenza, those at risk for severe disease should be vaccinated."
The health department had embarked on an immunisation campaign which would be rolled out in two stages. The first stage started this week, while the second would be in May. - (Sapa, April 2010)