Over 690,000 South Sudan children vaccinated against measles

FILE PHOTO: South Sudanese health workers prepare to administer vaccination against measles to children during a campaign in Juba, South Sudan February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Samir Bol/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: South Sudanese health workers prepare to administer vaccination against measles to children during a campaign in Juba, South Sudan February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Samir Bol/File Photo

More than 690,000 South Sudanese children have been vaccinated against measles in the second phase of the immunization campaign in 25 counties, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday evening.

The campaign which was organized and led by the Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and other partners are part of the effort to ensure immunization stays in the forefront of primary health care to protect children and future generations.

Olushayo Olu, WHO representative for South Sudan said the campaign that started on Nov. 15 targeted children aged six to 59 months against measles to ensure that the continuation of immunization activities is successfully done in four states of Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity despite COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.

“The commitment of health workers to reach as many children as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic and severe flooding is really to be commended,” Olu said in a statement issued in Juba.

He said the implementation of vaccination campaigns is a strong opportunity to reach children with life-saving interventions.

According to WHO, more than 6,000 trained vaccinators are carrying out the campaign using facility-based services to reach all eligible children no matter where they live.

Since the beginning of the year, it said 1,115 measles cases and 10 deaths have been reported in South Sudan, with all cases being in children under five years of age.

Olu said immunizing all children against measles can eliminate measles as a cause of death, adding that this can only be possible if population immunity was kept at more than 95 percent over long periods through routine immunization and supplementary activities.

Since July, severe flooding in South Sudan has forced nearly one million people to flee their homes and increases the risk of measles cases with the potential for explosive outbreaks in the congested camps.