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Yellow fever vaccine drive begins

23rd November 2009

A World Health Organisation (WHO) vaccination campaign against yellow fever is to begin in Africa.


The campaign will last three weeks, and will target people in Benin, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

All of the 11.9 million people targeted for vaccination throughout the three countries are at a high risk of contracting yellow fever.

The campaign is being supported by various organisations, including the WHO, Médecins sans Frontières, UNICEF, and the national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Local health teams will administer the vaccine, as well as handing out medicinal packets with vitamins and pills that counter intestinal worms.

In Sierra Leone, the local teams will also hand out the measles vaccine.

William Perea, who coordinates the WHO's epidemic readiness and intervention unit, said that although yellow fever was very difficult to diagnose in the early stages of infection, the vaccine campaign would stop yellow fever outbreaks from happening.

He said that a single dose of the vaccine will give people full protection from the disease.

The three countries in question are three of the African countries with the highest risk of malaria outbreaks.

In the past several years, similar mass vaccination campaigns have been staged in Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Togo, and Senegal.

The GAVI Alliance, a partnership comprised of UN agencies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the WHO, has contributed US$103 million to vaccination efforts in Africa.

The WHO has used the funds to stockpile vaccines, as well as to assess levels of risk among the various populations of West Africa.

Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, director of the WHO's department of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals, said that 37 countries in Africa and the Americas have introduced yellow fever vaccine into their routine childhood immunisation schedule, up from 12 countries a decade ago.

However, Fenella Avokey, medical officer for yellow fever control in the WHO African regional office said that yellow fever is reappearing in countries that have not reported cases in many years.

Edward Hoekstra, UNICEF senior health specialist, said that children and adults in West and Central Africa are unnecessarily affected by yellow fever, since one vaccine would be enough to cure sufferers.


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Article Information

Title: Yellow fever vaccine drive begins
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 13317
Date Added: 23rd Nov 2009


World Health Organisation
BBC News

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