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Sierra Leone to vaccinate 1.4 million children during African Vaccination Week PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 23:41

Freetown, 26 April 2013 – From 26 to 29 April 2013 the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and its partners will vaccinate 1.4 million children under the age of five years against Polio. The campaign, which is synchronized with other West African countries, will be carried out nationwide and in line with the African Vaccination Week. Vaccines are estimated to save the lives of 2 to 3 million children worldwide each year.

This year special focus will be on missed children, who have not been immunized during previous campaigns. These are usually children from the poorest families with the least access to health services living in densely populated or remote areas. Until all children under five years have been vaccinated, the risk of transmission of the illness remains.

Ms. Miatta Kargbo, Minister of Health and Sanitation, stated, "The District Health Management Teams are working hard with health workers and volunteers, to ensure that every child is vaccinated. Once polio is eradicated, Sierra Leone can celebrate a major global public health victory that will benefit all, no matter where they live".

During the campaign, vaccination teams will go from house to house in all communities in Sierra Leone to vaccinate all children under five years of age against Polio. The vaccinators give the children two drops of the oral polio vaccine in their mouths and then mark their small finger with ink to indicate that the child has been vaccinated.

Dr. Teniin Gakuruh, Officer in Charge of the WHO Country Office explained, "Polio is a highly infectious disease that can lead to paralysis and death. The only protection from this disease is vaccination, once you have the disease there is no cure. We therefore urge all parents and caretakers to ensure their children under five years of age receive the vaccine during this campaign".

Anyone can contract Polio, but children under five years of age are the most affected. For a child to be safe from the disease it needs to get at least three doses of the vaccine in the routine immunisation. Any additional dose increases the chances of protection. There is no danger of overdose and eligible children should receive the vaccine regardless of their previous immunisation status. Vaccinators will therefore be administering the drops to all children under the age of five, irrespective of whether they had been previously immunized or not.

"Vaccinators will go from house to house and also visit schools and markets to reach as many children as possible", said Roeland Monasch, the UNICEF Country Representative in Sierra Leone. . "We would like to urge parents, caretakers and community leaders to make sure that children are available at home to receive the vaccinations, especially in remote and densely populated areas." he added.

"Polio eradication in Sierra Leone can only be achieved with the widespread involvement of partners and Rotary International remains committed to achieving this humanitarian goal in Sierra Leone" said Ms. Abator Davidson, President of the Rotary Club of Freetown in Sierra Leone.

Parents are also urged to ensure their children complete the routine immunisation schedule, and to report all cases of children under 15years of age who develop sudden weakness of the limbs to the nearest health facility for polio investigation.

###

?For more information please contact:

Jonathan Abass Kamara, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, tel: 076 678 021

Aminata Grace Kobie, Health Information and Promotion Adviser, WHO, tel: 076 723 236 <

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Angela Griep, Communication Specialist, External Relations and Advocacy, UNICEF, tel: 076 601 310 <

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