April 2023: Partner News Round-Up

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World Immunization Week (April 24-30) not only saw numerous campaigns across the globe, but it also featured the launch of an ambitious multilateral effort to lift vaccination rates among children “to at least pre-pandemic levels.” The effort—dubbed “The Big Catch-up”—brings together WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners: focusing particularly on the 20 countries that are home to 75 percent of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021, it seeks to strengthen healthcare systems, improve health service delivery, build trust and demand for vaccines with community members, and address gaps and obstacles to restoring immunization.

Meanwhile, governments at every level—from municipalities to countries—celebrated World Immunization Week with a range of initiatives, including:

  • Canada’s city of Toronto offered routine and catch-up vaccinations in city-run clinics to children ages 4 to 17.
  • Pakistan’s Punjab province conducted outreach activities to help immunize children against measles, deploying 4,486 vaccinators and as many social mobilizers to reach children across the province.
  • Kyrgyzstan deployed 76 mobile teams to conduct routine and catch-up immunization.
  • Nepal launched a weeklong campaign aiming to raise the share of fully vaccinated children from 80% to 95%.
  • Peru’s Tacna region launched a door-to-door and fixed-point campaign aiming to immunize 4,100 people against chickenpox, Covid-19, diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcus, polio, rubella, tetanus and yellow fever.

In the press release announcing the Big Catch-up, the collaborating organizations noted that over 100 countries had recorded declines in childhood vaccination since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. WHO; Globe Echo; City of Toronto; Business Recorder; 24.kg; Khabarhub; Andina

Outbreak Response

India’s Jharkhand state on April 15 launched a vaccination campaign against measles and rubella, targeting 4,562,492 children ages 9 months to 15 years. Slated to last five weeks, the campaign will take place in nine districts with increased measles cases, including Deoghar, Dhanbad, Dumka, Giridih, Godda, Jamtara, Koderma, Pakur and Sahibganj. Business Standard

Indonesia’s West Java province began a two-round vaccination effort against polio on April 3, targeting 3,984,797 children under 5. The monthlong novel OPV2 campaign follows a case of acute flaccid paralysis in Purwakarta confirmed as cVDPV2 in mid-March. As of April 11, the campaign has achieved 85 percent coverage. The second round is planned for the third week of May. Indonesia was certified free of wild poliovirus in 2015. OANA; WHO

Syria kicked off an anticholera vaccination drive at the end of April targeting 1.2 million people. The campaign came in response to increased risks of waterborne disease due to a combination of overcrowding and damage to water, sanitation, and cholera treatment infrastructure brought on by earthquakes in February. An earlier effort in northwest Syria reached 1.7 million people. The Guardian

The South African city of Ekurhuleni extended its measles vaccination campaign in an effort to reach its goal of immunizing 1 million children ages 6 months to 15 years. Originally scheduled to run through the end of March, the campaign has reached just 526,000 children to date. South Africa launched a nationwide measles vaccination campaign in February because of an outbreak. Springs Advertiser

The Democratic Republic of the Congo ran an anti-polio vaccination effort March 30-April 1 targeting children under 5 in four provinces (Bas-Uélé, Haut-Uélé, Kasaï-Oriental and Sud Kivu). In the first two provinces combined, the campaign aimed to vaccinate 700,000 children. WHO DRC; Archynewsy

Mozambique started an anti-cholera outbreak response vaccination drive in Quelimane in early April, targeting 410,000 people. While the country launched a nationwide campaign in February, Cyclone Freddy damaged 163 health facilities and displaced some 184,000 people across the country, increasing cholera cases. Mozambique also plans to launch a revised National Cholera Plan to address major areas for cholera elimination, including water and sanitation, healthcare services and management, epidemiology and surveillance and health and hygiene promotion. AFP; Voice of Nigeria; Pan African Medical Journal

The Argentine capital of Buenos Aires started a fumigation campaign against dengue in late March. The campaign comes after more than 28,000 registered dengue cases this year in 14 jurisdictions. Additionally, the city distributed brochures to raise awareness of prevention and detection measures. Clarin; Time News

India’s West Bengal state started a fumigation drive against dengue in the Salt Lake area on March 27. In the door-to-door campaign, trained vector workers sprayed larvicide and checked for accumulated freshwater in residences. Local officials also planned to set up rapid response teams and fever camps in areas where cases are reported. This year, there have been at least eight cases of dengue in the surrounding area. Telegraph India

American Samoa began an outbreak response effort against measles at the end of April, targeting all unvaccinated students on its largest island, Tutuila, and moving up the age for the first dose of measles-containing vaccine to six months. All daycare centers will remain closed “until further notice.” Samoa News

Integrated Campaigns

South Sudan launched a nationwide campaign against measles in late April, aiming to target 2.7 million children ages 6 months to 5 years. The campaign, integrated with vitamin A supplements and deworming medication, will use a combination of fixed and outreach vaccination sites to reach undervaccinated and unvaccinated children. The country saw over 4,000 measles cases from the start of 2022 until February of this year. Gavi

Ethiopia’s Tigray region kicked off a vaccination drive against measles in early April, targeting 830,000 children ages 6 months to 5 years in 76 districts. The 12-day catch-up campaign aimed to close the immunization gap that arose from the two-year armed conflict in the area. The effort also incorporated deworming against intestinal parasites, vitamin A drops, and screening for acute malnutrition. Pregnant and lactating women visiting health facilities were also screened for malnutrition and had the option of receiving Covid-19 vaccines. FanaBC; Investing.com

Lesotho ran an anti-measles vaccination effort April 17-21, targeting 114,000 children under age 10. The effort came amid a South African outbreak affecting hundreds and followed four recent cases in Lesotho’s Maseru district. Taking place in public clinics, the campaign was integrated with vitamin A supplementation. A similar effort last year reached only 33 percent of the target population, but officials hoped for 90 percent coverage this time. Informative; Maseru MoH

Bolivia started a nationwide integrated campaign April 17 targeting 35,679 children with vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and yellow fever. Expected to end May 14, the initiative will operate in rural and urban health centers. In addition, Bolivia’s Santa Cruz de la Sierra and surrounding areas ran a multi-antigen vaccination drive April 5-April 30 targeting unvaccinated children under 6. Taking place in health centers, the drive involved at least 70,000 doses of vaccines against each of a range of diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella and tetanus. The campaign aimed to increase immunization rates in a region where only 47% of children received second doses of MMR vaccine in 2022 and only 48% were given an influenza shot. El Deber (1); El Deber (2)

Nicaragua kicked off a national integrated vaccination campaign on April 11. Running through month-end, the extensive campaign included shots against Covid-19, diphtheria, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcus, polio, rubella, tetanus and tuberculosis, among others. In addition, participants received vitamin supplements and antiparasitics. Prensa Latina; Archynewsy

Paraguay launched its annual multi-antigen vaccination campaign April 10. While open to the population at large, the effort specifically targets risk groups such as young children, older adults, health professionals, essential public service workers and people with comorbidities. Slated to end July 14, the effort includes bivalent Covid-19 vaccine, a quadrivalent influenza vaccine and a 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine. It will take place door to door and in mobile vaccination clinics. Radio Nacional; Breaking Latest; Archynewsy

Local Campaigns

Afghanistan ran a subnational drive against polio April 3, targeting at least 1.14 million children under age 5. The three-day door-to-door campaign took place in Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces. KabulNow; Polio Free Afghanistan

Brazil’s Pernambuco state ran an HPV vaccination effort on March 30, aiming to immunize public school girls and boys ages 9 to 14. The effort, which included 220 teaching units in 163 municipalities, also offered routine immunizations to children who had missed doses. Jornal do Commercio; Folha de Pernambuco

Zambia’s Manyinga district ran the second round of an anti-polio vaccination drive April 20-23. The first round—conducted in February—reached 17,482 children, meeting the district’s coverage goal. Lusaka Times

South Africa extended the first phase of a nationwide school-based vaccination effort against HPV until April 26. The phase (targeting girls in grades 5-9) was slated to end March 31, but the country’s measles outbreak delayed the effort in some schools. The second phase—administering the second dose of what remains a two-dose schedule in South Africa—is scheduled for September and October. Pretoria Rekord; News24

Zimbabwe’s Nyanga community is holding a mass drug administration campaign against blinding trachoma, targeting people of all ages. The campaign is being conducted in all local hospitals, clinics and health posts, but teams are also visiting remote areas. The MoH suggested the district is at risk because community members lack access to WASH. The neighboring Mutasa community conducted a similar mass drug administration effort late January. The Manica Post

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