By Johnbosco Tugume
The Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi has urged parents to embrace the ongoing mass immunization against Measles, Rubella and Polio by having their children immunized. Ssekandi made the remarks as he launched the exercise in Hoima on Wednesday morning.
The Vice President is representing the President at World Food Day commemoration at the Bulindi Zonal Agricultural Research Dev't Centre in Kyabigambire Subcounty. He observed that it’s the parent’s role and responsibility to ensure that their children below 15 years are immunized in the ongoing campaign so as to build their immunity against the three diseases.
The five day national immunization campaign started on Tuesday, October 15. It will run up to Sunday October 20. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health has allayed parents’ fears that the Measles and Rubella vaccine is not safe for their children. Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says the vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are therefore safe, free and effective. “We appeal to all parents, caretakers and guardians, to take all your children below 15 years of age for immunization against Measles, Rubella and Polio during this mass immunization exercise,” Dr Aceng said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry Uganda is set to immunize more than 18 million children against measles and rubella, which amounts to 43% of the country’s population. Among them, 8.2 million children younger than 9 months, or 20.5% of the population, will also receive the oral polio vaccine. Dr Jospeh Ruyonga, the Hoima district health officer says the district targets to vaccinated 230,000 children during the five day drive. He says 161,000 of the children will be vaccinated against measles and Rubella while 76,000 will be vaccinated against polio.
Uganda has in the recent past experienced Measles and Rubella outbreak in over 60 districts upon which background Ministry of Health together with partners decided to launch the immunization campaign. The five-day mass immunization campaign, funded by the Government of Uganda, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), the Vaccine Alliance; the United Nations Children’s Fund; and the World Health Organization (WHO); intends to tackle these three public health challenges.
The campaign, to be conducted in schools for the first three days and in communities for the last two days, targets all children younger than 15 years, whether previously immunized or not, in order to interrupt the circulation of these diseases. The campaign will be a Launchpad to introduce the measles-rubella vaccine into the country’s routine immunization schedule.
“This campaign does NOT replace the routine immunization schedule. Parents, caregivers and all concerned must ensure that all children receive and complete all the vaccines specified on our immunization schedule after the campaign,” Minister Aceng emphasizes.