SOUTH SUDAN – The Ministry of Health with support from Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) partners including WHO, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and other health implementing partners have completed a pre-emptive yellow fever vaccination campaign.
The campaign targeting 57,443 individuals, aged 9 months to 60 years, was conducted in Morobo, Lainya and Yei River Counties in Central Equatoria State where Yellow Fever was confirmed in 2020.
At the end of the campaign, 56,640 (98.6%) of individuals aged 9 months to 60 years received the yellow fever vaccine in Morobo, Lainya, and Yei River counties.
In March 2020, two laboratory-confirmed yellow fever cases were reported in Kajo-keji County following a comprehensive cross-border outbreak investigation after a yellow fever outbreak was declared in the bordering Moyo district of Uganda.
“When we learnt that Yellow fever has been confirmed in the neighboring Kajo-keji county it was a source of worry to the communities given the high risk posed by our proximity with Kajo-Keji and Uganda where similar cases have also been confirmed coupled with the fragile health system in the county” Hon. Aggrey Cyrus, Commissioner for Yei River County said
The 8-day campaign was implemented within the national and WHO guidelines for implementing mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19
“Yellow Fever remains a major public health concern in South Sudan and its re-emergence especially at the time the country is responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic places more burden on the health system and is something to be worried about.” Said Dr John Rumunu, Director General for Preventive Health Service.
Vaccination is the primary means for prevention and control of yellow fever and a single dose of WHO approved yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease.
The pre-emptive yellow fever vaccination is part of the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics by 2026.
Based on the EYE strategy initiative, South Sudan is classified as a high-risk country and thus, the strategic yellow fever control requirements entail maintaining high population immunity; monitoring population immunity; case-based surveillance and laboratory testing; rapid response to outbreaks; targeting travelers in compliance with IHR (2005), and strengthening health systems readiness.
In the last couple of years, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and partners intensified the preventive measures for high-risk areas, including the inclusion of the yellow fever vaccine into the national childhood routine immunization, review application process to fund implementation of country control strategies and review as well as update the national yellow fever vaccination requirements for international travelers.