The Ministry of Health supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance on Vaccines (GAVI) has launched the Yellow Fever vaccination campaign today, 20 August, in Moyo District.
The campaign is targeting 1.6 million people in six districts following an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Buliisa and four districts in West Nile, which claimed four lives in the affected districts. The targeted high-risk districts include Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Obongi, and Yumbe.
While launching the campaign, the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng mentioned that the Yellow fever outbreak in the West Nile region required the Ministry’s quick response despite currently being engaged by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response. “We are dealing with a complex disease outbreak, but we remain cognizant of the fact that other essential health services like vaccination, maternal l and child health services are required by our people”, said the Minister.
Indeed, Sr Endreo Aurelia, a nurse in charge of immunization at Moyo General hospital says that they continue to receive clients who require routine immunization services. She, however, points out that the COVID-19 has created mistrust among a few members of the general public towards government services such as immunization. “People think that vaccines are the ones spreading the infection, but we continue to educate and inform them that vaccines are here to save their lives.”
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the WHO Representative to Uganda commended the leadership of the country for embracing vaccine programs. “I specifically want to appreciate His Excellency President of Uganda, for being the main champion of immunization in Uganda. In the time that I have been in this country, I have noted that he emphasizes Immunization in all his speeches,” Dr. Yonas said.
Dr. Yonas informed the public that immunization remains the main strategic approach to prevent, contain, and eliminate Yellow fever outbreaks. He further said that high vaccination coverage helps sustain immunity and is key to eliminating the risk of disease outbreaks.
Uganda is considered a high-risk country for Yellow fever by a comprehensive global strategy to Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE). The EYE strategy was developed by WHO and partners, following the 2016 urban yellow fever outbreak in Angola which spread to neighboring countries and generated local transmission, exhausted global emergency stockpiles of vaccine, and highlighted the risk of international spread, as 11 cases were exported to China.
The Yellow fever vaccine is intended to reach millions of people aged 9 months to 60 years in six high-risk districts in the West Nile region.