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Health Ministry concerned about dropping childhood Immunization

Health Ministry concerned about dropping childhood Immunization

Staff Reporter

THE Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula has expressed concern on the low uptake of childhood immunization, stating that this creates health threats for those who are not immunized and also others who may contract them through outbreaks.

The above sentiments were shared at the Launch of the Integrated Vaccination Campaign which aims to upscale vaccination coverage against all vaccine-preventable diseases, including Covid-19.

“Immunization is an essential life-saving service in preventing severe illnesses among children, adults and pregnant women, making it critical in reducing maternal and neonatal deaths. However, like other services, routine immunizations were interrupted during COVID-19 pandemic. Through monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, the Ministry noted with concern the low uptake of childhood immunization, particularly immunization against Measles & Rubella,”. Dr. Shangula said.

 

VACCINE RESISTANT: Picture for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Freepik

 

The minister further detailed that the health Ministry has also recorded a reduction in immunization of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Rotavirus and Pneumococcal vaccines in recent years.

He stated that these trends may have serious repercussions on the country, particularly with the re-emergence of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) that has been reported in Malawi and Mozambique, as well as the circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (VDPV) in the sub-region.

“Despite tremendous progress, vaccination coverage has plateaued and dropped since the advent of Covid-19 pandemic and associated disruptions over the past two years. By the end of 2021, all countries had introduced Covid-19 vaccination. At present, more than 12.3 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered and 62.4% of the eligible population has been vaccinated. In Namibia, only 26.3% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. It is therefore critically important to upscale vaccination coverage against all vaccine-preventable diseases, including Covid-19. This shall be achieved through the launch of this integrated vaccination campaign,” Dr. Shangula added.

He explained that the vaccine strategies for the integrated campaign were developed based on the practical experiences and lessons learned during the COVID-19 vaccination drive from March 2021 up to May 2022, adding that one specific innovation that stood out was reaching out to the population through different means.

“This particularly highlighted the house-to-house approach as one option for better vaccination coverage. This campaign, therefore, considered the innovations and data from Vaccine Hesitancy Surveys which indicated a total of 30% of the Namibian population are willing to be vaccinated if services are brought closers to them,” Dr. Shangula concluded.

 

 

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