Measles, rubella vaccination campaign set for September

26Apr 2019
James Kandoya
The Guardian
Measles, rubella vaccination campaign set for September

TANZANIA is set to embark on a fresh measles and rubella vaccination campaign next September after it was realized that a huge number of children did not complete earlier jabs, creating a pathway for an outbreak of the contagious diseases.

The jabs missed and new ones will be administered in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to children aged between nine and 59 months.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday during the commemoration of World Immunization Week, WHO immunization advisor in Tanzania, Dr William Mwengee said the target was to achieve 95 percent coverage in all districts to prevent any outbreak and provide enhanced immunity in the various communities.

He said he said that to sustain that campaign, it was vital to avoid c0omplacecy among the people and health workers.

“Despite tremendous gains towards increasing access and utilization of immunization services in past decades, we need to sustain these gains and increase efforts to reach those who are not vaccinated and those not fully vaccinated.”

Commenting on the global trend, he said measles cases have continued to climb in 2019, with preliminary global data showing that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

He said the WHO African Region has recorded a 700 percent increase, the region of the Americas 60 percent, the European region 300 percent while the Eastern Mediterranean saw a 100 percent increase in cases. A 40 percent increase was registered in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, he elaborated.

Currently, ithe Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine had rising contagion causing many deaths mostly among young children.

Over recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage including the United States, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.

For her part, the Immunization Programme Manager, Dr Dafroza Lyimo said that one big challenge was children who missed the first dose creating a pathway to new outbreaks.

The follow up campaign slated to kick in September targets to reach children of nine to 59 months irrespective of whether they were earlier vaccinated or not.

“I call on all parents to use the opportunity by sending their children to the nearest health center or dispensary to receive full complement vaccination,” she emphasized.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a statement issued yesterday said that an estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, or 21.1 million children a year on average.

Widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world today.

“The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.”

In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide – up nearly 300 per cent from the same period last year. An estimated 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017, a 22 per cent increase from the year before.

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