Malawi launched the first round of a six-day polio outbreak response campaign March 21, targeting 2.9 million children under age 5 with bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). The country declared an outbreak February 17 after discovering its first wild polio case in 30 years—the first such case on the continent since 2020. Using a regional approach, a four-round vaccination drive will administer more than 80 million doses to over 23 million children across five southern African countries. The first round targets 9.4 million children in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Three subsequent rounds—which will include Zimbabwe—are set for April, June and July. WHO Malawi; WHO Malawi (2)
Kenya is planning a yellow fever vaccination drive in response to an outbreak declared on March 4 in central Kenya’s Isiolo county (around 167 miles north of Nairobi). The government, WHO, and partners have mobilized resources to support response activities, including a proposed vaccine provision request to the International Coordinating Group (ICG) for reactive yellow fever vaccination in Isiolo, with possible extension to any other counties at imminent risk. The national routine immunization schedule includes yellow fever vaccine for 9-month-old children in only four high-risk counties (Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, West Pokot) in the country’s northwest, yielding an estimated immunization coverage of 7% of the target population. Kenya has not historically conducted large-scale preventive mass vaccination campaigns for the disease. WHO; IFRC
Spotlight on Covid-19 Campaigns
Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine uptake rose 15% between January and February, largely driven by mass vaccination campaigns in populous countries including DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria. Covid-19 campaign highlights in the first quarter of 2022 include:
- Ethiopia: A mass vaccination campaign pushed up the number of doses administered by 136% between January 23 and March 6.
- Kenya: A two-week drive in early February saw an average of 200,000 people vaccinated daily compared with 70,000 per day before the campaign.
- Guinea Bissau: Around 125,000 doses were administered during a two-week campaign in February, in comparison with 11,000 in the whole of January.
- Tanzania: While not yet carrying out mass vaccinations, the country saw a 152% increase in vaccine uptake between January and February.
WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, and partners are supporting mass Covid-19 vaccination drives in at least 10 priority countries to reach 100 million people by the end of April. To date, the continent has fully vaccinated just 15% of the adult population. Only two African countries—Mauritius and Seychelles—have surpassed 70% coverage, and five countries have fully vaccinated between 40% and 69% of their populations. Thirty-six countries have coverage under 20%, including 15 that have yet to reach 10%. WHO AFRO; United Nations
Cameroon started a cholera outbreak response campaign March 16, using a donation of 800,000 vaccines from WHO. More than 2,000 cases of the waterborne disease have been reported since the epidemic began in October 2021, with 62 deaths (including 29 deaths in the week leading up to March 22). Bloomberg
Israel launched a polio vaccination drive in March, weeks after health officials confirmed the first case in the country in over 30 years. The “Two Drops” campaign aims to complete the two-dose regimen for children ages 3 months to 17 years who have had only one dose. It will begin in Jerusalem—where the case was identified—and then expand to the rest of the country. As of March 28, 16,066 people have been vaccinated. Times of Israel; Israel MoH
Ukraine’s ongoing polio vaccination campaign came to a halt at the end of February due to the Russian invasion of the country. Approximately 40,000 children ages 6 months to 6 years (out of a targeted 140,000) in Rivne and Zakarpattya received the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) shot in the three weeks before fighting began. As people flee the conflict—an estimated 3.7 million to neighboring countries and 6.5 million displaced internally—there is a concern that polio will travel with them. As of October 2021, only 53% of 1-year-olds were vaccinated for polio in Ukraine. Time; UNHCR
Pakistan’s first National Immunization Days (NIDs) campaign of the year reached over 43 million children under age 5. During the late February event, over 339,521 health workers went house-to-house delivering oral polio drops. Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme
Egypt ran a nationwide polio vaccination campaign March 27-30, aiming to reach 16 million children—regardless of citizenship—under age 5. During the four-day campaign, 90,000 medical personnel administered oral polio drops through fixed clinics, house-to-house visits, and mobile teams on streets and in markets, malls, large squares, and transit stations. Egypt Today
Nepal plans to conduct an anti-typhoid campaign April 8-May 1, targeting 7 million children ages 15 months to 15 years. After the campaign ends, the typhoid vaccine will be added to the routine vaccination schedule for children. Himalayan Times; Kathmandu Post
Syria held its first national anti-polio campaign of the year March 6-10, targeting 2.7 million children under age 5. During the campaign, 10,210 health personnel delivered vaccines through 977 health centers and 2,450 mobile teams. Syria Times
Afghanistan ran a measles vaccination campaign March 12-17, targeting 1.2 million children ages 6 months to 59 months. During the weeklong effort, approximately 9,200 health workers and volunteers administered measles shots and oral polio drops across 49 districts in 24 provinces. WHO EMRO
Ghana conducted the second phase of a preventative yellow fever vaccination campaign February 26-March 2, targeting 420,000 people ages 9 months to 60 years in nine regions. The first phase took place in December 2021, following an outbreak in the Savannah region and other parts of the country. UNICEF Ghana; News Ghana; Graphic Online
The Gambia ran the second round of an anti-polio campaign March 19-22, targeting 382,908 children under age 5. The immunization drive used a two-pronged approach: a door-to-door campaign combined with targeting strategic locations like childhood development centers, nursery schools, markets, ferry crossing points, and health centers. WHO Gambia; Gainako
India’s Odisha state held an MDA campaign to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in seven endemic districts: Bargarh, Keonjhar, Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Sonepur, and Sundargarh. The campaign—which took place March 7-16—aimed to reach all residents over age 2 (except for pregnant women and the seriously ill) with the antifilarial drugs DEC and albendazole. Pragativadi News Service
Nepal launched a mass drug administration (MDA) to control lymphatic filariasis in 10 districts on March 12, targeting people ages 5 and older. In five districts, the Health Ministry will administer ivermectin for the first time, along with diethylcarbamazine and albendazole. The remaining five districts will receive the routine two-medicine regimen of diethylcarbamazine and albendazole. Kathmandu Post
Nepal also halted plans to launch an HPV vaccination campaign in nine districts this year due to a lack of Ministry of Health funds to purchase doses. Government officials are planning to request support from Gavi to help Nepal introduce the HPV vaccine in the country’s regular immunization schedule. Kathmandu Post
New Zealand had to destroy 320,000 unused MMR doses that expired in February and March of this year. Initially part of a targeted measles immunization catch-up campaign launched in July 2020 to reach 300,000 people ages 15-30, the rollout was hampered by the Covid-19 response as health resources were redirected to other priorities. The measles campaign was paused from March 2021-November 2021, after just 20,000 vaccines had been administered. NZ Herald