December 2021: Partner News Round-Up

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Afghanistan held a national polio immunization campaign December 13-16. Synchronized with Pakistan to improve cross-border eradication efforts, the initiative targeted 9.9 million children under age 5. During the campaign’s first phase in November, 8.5 million children received anti-polio drops, including 2.4 million children who were inoculated for the first time in over three years. The country plans six more campaigns in 2022. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only polio-endemic countries in the world. UNICEF

Kenya kicked off a 100-day periodic intensification of routine immunization (PIRI) campaign on November 1, with the goals of vaccinating at least 95% of children ages 9-59 months against measles, 70% of adolescent girls ages 10-14 against HPV, and, in eligible counties, reducing malaria vaccine drop out between the third and fourth dose from 30% to 10%. The nationwide PIRI campaign, running through February, is taking place in 8,000 immunization facilities in 47 counties, as well as through outreach efforts in schools and community settings. Kenya MoH


Spotlight on Covid-19 Campaigns

Although funding shortfalls, limited access to commodities, and misinformation have hampered Covid-19 campaigns in Africa, countries have been able to draw upon their experience running mass vaccination campaigns for diseases like polio, measles, and Ebola, and use existing campaign infrastructure for their Covid-19 vaccine rollouts. Some highlights of WHO’s Covid-19 African campaign review include:

  • South Sudan: The country is using vaccine accountability tools adapted from its polio campaigns to keep track of how well vaccines are distributed and used at the service delivery level.
  • Liberia: Building on its experience with Ebola, Liberia set up vaccination sites in frequented locations like churches, mosques, banks, and markets.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Established vaccination sites in prisons, military areas, and mining sites.
  • Countries that previously fought Ebola outbreaks or conducted preventative vaccination campaigns already had the capability to store vaccines at extremely cold temperatures—a requirement for the Ebola vaccine and some Covid-19 vaccines.

As of end-December 2021, all but one (Eritrea) of the continent’s 54 nations have launched Covid-19 immunization campaigns, with around 250 million doses given so far. However, this amounts to just 3% of the almost 8 billion doses distributed globally, and only around 8% of Africans are fully vaccinated. WHO AFRO

Pakistan ran an integrated polio and Covid-19 immunization campaign December 10-13. As part of its fourth national polio campaign, more than 290,000 frontline health workers traveled house to house to administer polio vaccination drops and Vitamin A supplements to 40 million children under age 5 in 156 districts. The country’s polio program also facilitated Covid-19 vaccination efforts in collaboration with the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and the National Command Operations Center (NCOC): children ages 12-18 received the Pfizer vaccine, while adults age 18 and older received Sinovac’s shot in 31 high-risk districts identified by the NCOC. Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme

Many Asian countries now boast high Covid-19 vaccination coverage, despite slow and relatively late initial vaccination rollouts due to supply issues, low infection rates, vaccine mistrust, and other factors. Cambodia went from 11% coverage three months after the start of its campaign in February to 81% as of December 29, in part due to a steady supply of vaccines via COVAX and from China. Similarly, Malaysia rose from 5% coverage in its first three months to 78% as of December 29, due to the establishment of hundreds of vaccination centers and help from the Red Cross in enlisting hard-to-reach populations. Other countries such as Japan and Singapore have also shown similar trends in vaccine uptake. WHO; NPR  


Outbreak Response

Cameroon launched a measles vaccination campaign on December 4 along its northern border with Nigeria, after several dozen people—most of whom are children of former fighters fleeing Boko Haram terrorism—were found with measles at a demobilization center. During the weeklong campaign, 100 vaccination teams were deployed to villages around the border town of Meri, aiming to reach 67,000 children ages 6 months to 9 years. VOA

The Democratic Republic of the Congo launched a cholera vaccination drive on December 27 to halt an ongoing outbreak in the eastern part of the country. During the six-day campaign, 3,600 health workers and community mobilizers will aim to reach 2 million people age 1 and older within 13 health zones in the Haut-Lomami, South Kivu, and Tanganyika provinces. This is the second cholera campaign in the DRC in 2021; a two-phase campaign in March and July reached more than 1.4 million people in the Haut-Katanga province in the southeast of the country. WHO AFRO

The Democratic Republic of the Congo declared the end of an Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu province on December 16. More than 1,800 people were vaccinated in an outbreak response campaign that kicked off on October 13, just five days after the first case in the new outbreak was detected. The outbreak marks the first time the recently licensed Ervebo vaccine was deployed in the country. WHO AFRO; Reuters


Local Campaigns

Pakistan ran the largest immunization campaign in the country’s history in November. During the 12-day campaign (November 15-27), over 93 million children ages 9 months to 15 years were vaccinated against measles and rubella. The campaign also integrated oral polio vaccine into the campaign for children under age 5. GPEI; WHO EMRO

Egypt ran a nationwide polio campaign December 19-22, targeting 16.5 million children under age 5. During the four-day campaign, 45,000 vaccination teams comprised of 90,000 health workers administered OPV drops in a variety of locations: through fixed clinics, mobile teams and near churches, mosques and train stations. Ahram

Uganda will begin a national polio vaccination campaign in January, aiming to reach nearly 8.8 million children age 5 and under with nOPV2 drops. The first round will start January 14-16, with the second round scheduled for four weeks later. Polio campaigns were delayed in the country due to Covid-19 vaccination efforts. ChimpReports

Violence marred an anti-polio campaign in northwestern Pakistan in December, with shooters from the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) killing police officers escorting vaccination teams in two separate incidents. The attacks occurred during a five-day drive to vaccinate 6.5 million children in Tank, a remote district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan. Since 2012, dozens of health workers and police officers have been killed during polio vaccination campaigns in the country. More than half of the attacks have taken place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where20 polio workers and 10 police personnel have died. Al Jazeera (1); Al Jazeera (2); The News International

Niger’s Maradi region ran a cholera vaccination campaign in November and December, targeting nearly 2 million people with two doses of OCV. The first dose was distributed beginning November 22, and the second dose a month later. IFRC

Nigeria’s Osun state kicked off its annual Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Week on December 17, offering interventions such as Vitamin A supplementation, nutrition screening, deworming, immunization, iron folate distribution, family planning, HIV testing and counseling, health education, and distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets. The campaign aimed to reach 988,423 children under age 5 and pregnant women through 778 health facilities and outreach centers in all 332 wards in the state. All News Nigeria; AP News Nigeria

Nigeria’s Kwara state launched an integrated measles and polio vaccination campaign in December, with plans to vaccinate 601,865 children against measles at designated primary healthcare centers in 16 local government areas and to immunize 1,074,126 children under age 5 against polio in a house-to-house effort. Nigerian Tribune

In Ethiopia’s conflicted Afar region, the U.N. dispatched more than 5,700 packs of Vitamin A to conduct a nutrition campaign targeting an estimated 500,000 children as part of humanitarian emergency response efforts in the northern part of the country. U.N. OCHA

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