Govt to re-immunize all children again

The Government is to roll out a mass immunisation drive for all children under 15 across the country against measles, rubella and polio.

The five-day vaccination drive starts from September 24 to September 29. It will target schools including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools.

Dr Alfred Driwale, the programmes manager at Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), said the mass immunisation was informed by an accumulation of a huge number of children who have not been immunised against any of the diseases.

Driwale, who was speaking on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting at Hotel Africana, Kampala between the health ministry officials and the Lions Club of Uganda, said the decision was also informed by a fresh outbreak of measles and rubella in the country.

He noted that for the past three years, outbreaks have been recorded in 60 districts with Buganda, Busoga, Bugisu and Lango being the worst hit. The purpose of the campaign is also to introduce the rubella vaccine in the immunisation programme given an increase in cases of the disease. Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus.

It shares the same symptoms with measles and, according to Driwale, these similarities have resulted in many being misdiagnosed. Its symptoms include fever, sore throat, red eyes, dry cough and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Driwale said the disease has a severe impact on the foetus, especially if a pregnant mother contracts it within the first three months of the pregnancy.

The viruses cross from the mother to the foetus and affect the development of the circulatory system, thereby impeding its development. Women affected by rubella tend to give birth to children with cataracts, small heads due to underdeveloped brains, heart defects, deafness and glaucoma.

The campaign also seeks to immunise children against polio following outbreaks The campaign targets 18.1 million children for the measles/rubella vaccine and 8.2 million children for the polio vaccine. The polio vaccine will be given to children under the age of five.

Tabley Bakyayita, the assistant commissioner for health promotion and education division at the health ministry said, the public regarding the safety of the vaccines and the nearest facilities or centres for vaccination.

“You will work with the district teams and health workers and hold them accountable for results and use of the resources,” he said.

Dr Dans Naturinda, the Lion’s district governor, asked Ugandans, planning to dodge vaccination, to trust their health workers, noting that if they did not harm them when they were sick, why would they now?

“Let us learn to trust the professionals. Our doctors cannot be against us,” he said