Uganda Introduces Life-Saving Yellow Fever Vaccine into Routine Immunization Programme
In a bid to curb the spread of yellow fever, the Ministry of Health in Uganda on march 15 annouced it is set to vaccinate over 1.9 million children with the yellow fever vaccine. The vaccination drive is being carried out with the support of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, and will form part of Uganda’s routine immunization program (WHO). Yellow fever outbreaks have been reported in Uganda every 3–5 years, with less than 10% of the population being immunized against the disease. With the recent rise in disease outbreaks and the risks they present, the introduction of the yellow fever vaccine into Uganda’s routine immunization program is critical to saving children’s lives.
The yellow fever vaccine is highly effective, and only a single dose is needed for life-long protection against the virus. The vaccine introduction grant from Gavi will also see children vaccinated with measles-rubella vaccines.
In addition to the vaccination drive, Uganda will start the implementation of a phased preventive mass vaccination campaign (PMVC) by administering 13 million vaccine doses in 2023, targeting areas deemed most vulnerable to outbreaks.
Yellow fever is a highly contagious disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti or Haemagogus mosquito species, and outbreaks in Uganda originate mainly from sylvatic, or jungle, transmission. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates and then biting humans during agricultural and other activities in forested areas.
This life-saving move by Uganda will help to minimize and eventually end the threat of yellow fever epidemics. The WHO representative in Uganda has applauded the move, saying vaccination is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever.
Still on the news on Uganda’s yellow fever immunization programme …
The recent confirmed cases have been reported from near urban areas, such as Kampala, where around 24 percent of Ugandans (approximately 44 million in total) live in urban areas, with roughly half of those living in slums. Urban outbreaks of yellow fever in densely populated areas with low population immunity and often poor sanitation can have catastrophic consequences.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda’s Minister of Health, said, “Uganda is committed to controlling yellow fever transmission. “We want to ensure that our people are protected against this high-threat disease, and vaccines remain the main tool we have to efficiently prevent and contain yellow fever outbreaks.”
The yellow fever vaccine is safe, highly effective, and only a single dose is needed for life-long protection. The recent rise in disease outbreaks and the risks they present are why Uganda’s introduction of the yellow fever vaccine into its routine immunization program is critical to saving children’s lives and eliminating epidemics of this disease.
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative in Uganda, said, “We applaud Uganda for taking such an important step towards immunization against yellow fever.”
Tegegn added,”Vaccination is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever, and the prevention of outbreaks can only be achieved if the majority of the population is immunized.”
This is a very important step carried by the Uganda government. Kudos to them for saving lives.