1.9 million Children Receiving Yellow Fever Vaccination
The Ugandan Ministry of Health in Kampala recently announced it would soon vaccinate over 1.9 million children against yellow fever.
It is being administered to nine-month-old children as part of its commitment to the Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy. All these children will be vaccinated with yellow fever and measles-rubella vaccines.
This announcement on March 15, 2023, is essential as Uganda was one of 14 African countries reporting yellow fever cases in 2022. Recently, cases have been reported near urban areas, such as the capital city of Kampala.
Outbreaks of yellow fever in densely populated areas with low population immunity can have catastrophic consequences.
Previously, during the Integrated Child Health Days activities in October 2022, Uganda maintained its plans to introduce the yellow fever vaccine into its routine immunization program.
"Uganda is committed to controlling yellow fever transmission," said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda's Minister of Health, in a press release.
"We want to ensure that our people are protected against this high-threat disease, and vaccines remain the main tool to prevent and efficiently contain yellow fever outbreaks."
Uganda is a high-risk country for yellow fever transmission because less than 10% of the population is immunized against it.
And around 24% of Ugandans (~44 million) live in urban areas.
"We applaud Uganda for taking such an important step towards immunization against yellow fever," commented Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative in Uganda.
"Vaccination is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever, and the prevention of outbreaks can only be achieved if most of the population is immunized."
In addition, Uganda will implement a phased preventive mass vaccination campaign by administering 13 million vaccine doses in 2023. This will target areas deemed most vulnerable to outbreaks.
Yellow fever is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti or Haemagogus mosquito species. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates and then biting humans. Humans can then carry the virus to other areas, including urban centers.
Yellow fever infections can cause serious illness and death in 30–60% of severe cases. Unfortunately, there are no specific therapeutics to treat the disease.
However, there is a vaccine against yellow fever, and only a single dose is needed for life-long protection. This vaccination requires about ten days to maximize immunity protection.
In the U.S., the YF-Vax® vaccine is available at certified clinics and travel pharmacies in Houston, Texas.
Once vaccinated, a person can request the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, known as the yellow card, which is required to enter certain countries in 2023.