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Somali government expands vaccination efforts, targets 1.5 Million children in 2024

Hassan Istiila
Monday April 29, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) - The Somali government is expected to vaccinate 1.5 million children, including those who have not received any doses (zero-dose children) and those who have not completed their multi-dose vaccine series, as the age range for vaccination has been expanded to include children up to five years old.

During the World Immunization Week event in Mogadishu on Sunday, Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Ali Haji Aden announced that the government will introduce Pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines this year.

The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect against serious illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis, while the rotavirus vaccine helps prevent rotavirus infection, a common cause of 
diarrhoea and vomiting. These vaccines are crucial in reducing morbidity and mortality rates among children under five. 

Minister Aden urged people and community influencers to actively participate in immunization awareness efforts to ensure that every child in Somalia is reached. He emphasized the importance of vaccination in protecting children from deadly diseases, highlighting that vaccinated children develop stronger immunity than those not vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health plans warned against people spreading misinformation and disinformation about vaccinations, describing them as criminals who should be held accountable.

Last week, the Somali Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, trained thirty journalists on accurately reporting information related to immunization. The workshop included sessions on providing journalists with a comprehensive understanding of vaccination, reliable sources of information on immunization, crisis communication strategies, and understanding and debunking misinformation and disinformation about vaccination.

In March, Somalia received 1.4 million vials of oral cholera vaccine valued at US$ 2.5 million as part of efforts to combat a cholera outbreak. Since January, the outbreak has infected 4,388 people and claimed 54 lives, with two-thirds of the victims being children. According to WHO, the number of reported cases this year is three times higher than the average reported in the same period over the past three years.

UNICEF will distribute 1,399,983 vaccine doses to the most affected districts nationwide, including Bossaso, Garowe, Burhakaba, Balcad, Mahaday, and Dayniile, which have experienced the highest number of cases.

The El Nino-induced floods that began last August, displacing 1.2 million people, are believed to have contributed to the increase in cholera cases. The country's April-June Gu rainy season has already started.

Since April 19th, the Gu rains have affected more than 124,150 people, resulting in 5,100 people being displaced and the deaths of seven children. Jubaland, Hirshabelle, and Southwest states are the most severely impacted.

Immunization is a crucial aspect of public health, playing a vital role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and safeguarding the well-being of communities.


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