Under this campaign, over 18 million children will be immunized against Measles and Rubella and Polio which is 43% of the entire country’s population. Of these, 8.2 million children are aged below nine months, that is, 20.5% of the population who will receive the Oral Polio Vaccine.
Launching the USD 18 million campaign in Mayuge district, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said that this mass immunisation campaign is intended to interrupt the current Measles-Rubella outbreaks experienced in several districts across the country. “Over the last three years, Uganda has been experiencing a mixed outbreak of Measles and Rubella driven by low immunization coverage for Measles and not including rubella into our routine immunization schedule. We are also facing imminent threats of importation from the neighboring countries” she noted.
Dr Aceng noted that during this campaign, immunization in the first three days will be held in all schools (Government, Private, day and boarding) in the country while the other two days will see the campaign within designated community immunization posts. “Head teachers, please do not send any children away from school during the vaccination exercise. We need all children to be immunized” she urged.
“I am aware of certain religious sects and tribes that don’t want to vaccinate children. I appeal to you to bring your children for vaccination. We love your children that’s why we are providing these vaccines free of charge” she appealed.
Dr Aceng added that the campaign will be the launching pad to introduce the Measles-Rubella vaccines into the routine immunization schedule of the country. “After this campaign, the administration of the single dose of the Measles vaccine at 9 months will be immediately replaced by the combined Measles-Rubella vaccine into the routine immunization schedule” she said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam noted that this is one of the biggest immunization campaigns to be implemented in Africa and probably the world.
However, according to Dr Tegegn, only 13 out of 47 countries in the WHO Africa region are on track to achieve Measles elimination. “We hope this immunization campaign will make Uganda the fourteenth” he said.
“Vaccines are safe, effective and protect our children. Make sure every child is vaccinated” Dr Tegegn reiterated during the launch of the mass immunization drive.
During this campaign, teams of health workers will move out in all villages and communities in the country with the objective of attaining more than 95% immunization coverage that is needed to interrupt transmission of measles-rubella and polio in Uganda.
This campaign is funded by the Government of Uganda, Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) intended to tackle public health challenges such as disease outbreaks.