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Zanzibar successfully rolls out final round of polio vaccines


Zanzibar - In a bid to maximize protection of the population from outbreaks using scarce resources, Zanzibar has successfully piggybacked measles and rubella vaccination and vitamin A drops administration on a scheduled fourth round of polio vaccination campaign.

Benefiting from a wide network of community health volunteers, the three-in-one campaign reached its goals. A total of 363,134 children, above the targeted 361,845 were vaccinated in 11 districts in all five regions of the Unguja and Pemba islands that make Zanzibar. A total of 2,124 personnel, including vaccinators, recorders and community health volunteers were deployed and they reached 196,216 houses.

The archipelago’s five regions and 26 of the Mainland comprise the United Republic of Tanzania.

Grateful for support from Rotary International and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO provided doses of polio vaccine, technical and logistical facilitation. UNICEF and other partners also supported the campaign.

During the four-day campaign and one additional day for mop up vaccination teams traversed the streets and rural suburbs to deliver the three protections: Measles Rubella vaccine injection, and oral drops of polio vaccination and Vitamin A.

Taking advantage of the community engagement conducted for polio immunization campaign the results of the coverage of measles and rubella vaccination and Vitamin A drops matched the success of polio.

A total of 290,571 children got measles and rubella vaccination, which is 108% achievement from the estimated 269,688. Vitamin A reached a total of 251,171 children.

“We need to keep educating our public about the importance of vaccines in prevention of disease. As the community understanding about vaccination rises, our country will grow healthier in general,” said Honorable Othman Masoud, the First Vice President of Zanzibar.

Speaking on behalf of the WHO Country Representative at the opening of the campaign, Dr. William Mwengee said, “On behalf of all partners involved in the campaign, we reiterate our commitment to continue supporting Zanzibar’s effort to prevent polio and other vaccine preventable diseases.”

Measles broke out in Zanzibar in July this year, causing nearly 2000 cases, including 8 deaths, according the Zanzibar Minister for health, Honorable Ali Mazrui.

According to the Director of Preventive Services in MOH Zanzibar, Dr. Salim Slim the integration of measles and rubella and vitamin A on polio immunization campaign saved time and costs for the health system.

The fourth round of polio immunization campaign is the final in a series of additional prevention to all children aged 0—59 months scheduled in Tanzania and other neighboring countries following outbreak of Wild poliovirus type 1 in Malawi and Mozambique. The two countries reported cases of wild polio in February and April this year.

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