By Fred Kiva
The health minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has publicly immunized her daughter Michelle as government continues to assure the public that the vaccines used in the ongoing mass Rubella-Measles and Polio immunization exercise, are safe for the children.
Aceng on Thursday afternoon ensured that Michelle is immunized at Green Hill Academy where she goes to school. “Also among the immunized children at Green Hill Academy were the Minister’s nieces and nephews. The vaccine is safe, effective and efficacious,” the Ministry of Health stated on its official Twitter handle.
The Ministry has since the start of the exercise on Tuesday, been assuring parents that the vaccine being used is safe, amid social media allegations that it is dangerous to the children. Dr Aceng maintains that contrary to allegations, the Measles-Rubella vaccine does not cause Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and that several studies have shown there is no link between the vaccines and developing ASD. ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour.
“One ingredient that has been studied specifically is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination of multidose vials of vaccines. Research shows that thimerosal does not cause ASD,” Dr. Aceng said in a press statement issued on Tuesday. “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,” she said, adding that the vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are therefore safe, free and effective.
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. 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, being 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 exercise 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,” Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng emphasizes. The exercise concludes on Sunday October 20.