The biggest emergency yellow fever vaccination campaign ever held in Africa was launched in the city of Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of the Congo this week. With high risk of transmission of the mosquito-borne disease in this densely populated city, the vaccination campaign aims to protect as many people at risk as possible and stop the outbreak before the rainy season begins in late September.
WHO is supporting the Government and working closely with partners including UNICEF, World Food Programme, The DRC Red Cross Society, Save the Children and Mèdecins sans Frontières to roll out the campaign.
Dr Yokouidé Allarangar, WHO Representative in Democratic Republic of the Congo, launches the yellow fever vaccination campaign in Kinshasa on 16 August 2016. “This campaign requires an enormous effort from all, including community leaders and the people, so that we can stop the spread of this terrible disease,” he said at the launch.
In the weeks leading up to the launch, WHO and UNICEF worked closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure wide community awareness of the campaign and the importance of getting vaccinated. The success of this social mobilization work can be seen by the huge numbers of people of all ages who came to be vaccinated against yellow fever on the first day of the campaign in Kinshasa.
Around 41 000 health workers and volunteers have been trained and deployed to run vaccination posts in more than 8000 sites across the country, both in the city of Kinshasa and in remote areas along the border with Angola.
Geremia Nigiamao, 11 years old from the neighbourhood of KasaVubu in Kinshasa, proudly shows his vaccination card.
Dr Ibrahima-Soce Fall (r), WHO Director of Health Security and Emergencies, visits a vaccination centre during the first day of the yellow fever vaccination campaign in Kinshasa, on 17 August 2016.
Data on number of people vaccinated is collected from each of the vaccination posts. District vaccination teams meet every day to validate this information before sending it to the central level.
To protect as many people as possible with a limited supply of vaccines, the Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo will use one-fifth of the standard yellow fever dose as a short-term emergency measure for the campaign in Kinshasa. This method, known as fractional dosing, was recommended by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) after it reviewed evidence that demonstrates that lower doses will still protect people safely and effectively for at least 12 months. The Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced that it will offer the full dose of the vaccine in a year, when vaccine supplies have returned to normal.
People of all ages came to vaccination posts in Kinshasa on the first day of the yellow fever vaccination campaign that aims to reach more than 10 million people in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A young woman reacts as she is vaccinated during the first day of the yellow fever vaccination campaign in Kinshasa, on August 17, 2016.
Safe management of waste is an important part of this vaccination campaign. Teams have been trained to sort waste properly, to use safety boxes for syringes and needles and to collect other types of waste separately.
The yellow fever vaccination campaign in Kinshasa is using one-fifth of the standard vaccine dose as a short-term emergency measure to reach as many people as possible. Children may have a weaker immune response to the vaccine than older people and more research is needed before a fractional dose can be considered for this age group. Children aged 9 – 24 months will be offered the full dose of the vaccine during this campaign.
Protecting as many people as possible is at the heart of the strategy. The campaign aims to stop the yellow fever outbreak in its tracks by vaccinating those most at risk in the large, densely populated city of Kinshasa.
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