South Sudan, WHO launch yellow fever vaccination campaign amid outbreak

Yellow fever vaccination drive in South Sudan (WHO South Sudan)

South Sudan, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the largest ever yellow fever vaccination drive following an outbreak in November last year.

The outbreak was declared on 29 November 2019 after three laboratories confirmed cases of the virus.

The Ministry of Health and WHO hope to vaccinate over 8.3 million people aged from 9 months to 60 years against the deadly yellow fever virus.

Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by certain types of mosquito with symptoms ranging from fever, headache, jaundice, vomiting and nausea. Incubation period of the virus is usually 3-6 days following infection. Although most people do not experience symptoms, when they do occur, they are very severe. The disease can however be prevented by a single dose of a highly effective and safe vaccine.

According to a report by WHO, South Sudan is at high risk due to the combination of climate and ecological factors and because there are still areas of low population immunity.

This vaccination campaign is the third and final drive that forms a critical part of South Sudan’s work to protect everyone against yellow fever epidemics, in alignment with WHO’s Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy.

According to a statement released by Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan, part of the EYE strategy was to eliminate yellow fever by 2026.

“It serves to protect high-risk populations against the yellow fever virus in the immediate term and will serve as a bridge towards the introduction of yellow fever vaccine into the routine immunization system in the long term,” Olu said.

The last time South Sudan experienced a yellow fever outbreak was in May 2003, where 178 people were infected and 27 died.