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Measles mass immunization campaign launched in Lamwo

A health worker administer the measles vaccine to a child. File Photo

Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A month-long mass immunization campaign against measles has started in Lamwo district following an outbreak reported last month.

Measles is an acute, highly infectious, vaccine-preventable viral disease that can be transmitted through the air or through direct contact with an infected person. It presents symptoms of a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, small white spots inside the cheeks, and rashes on the face, upper neck, hands and feet of the patient mainly children.

The outbreak of the disease was reported in the Refugee Reception Centre in Lokung sub county and the Palabek refugee settlement which is home to over 65,000 refugees from South Sudan. According to the acting District Health Officer, Dr. Denis Ocula, at least 50 cases turned positive for measles, 30 of which have already been discharged and 11 are still hospitalized.

Dr. Ocula says the outbreak is presumed to have emerged from South Sudan due to a current influx of refugees into Uganda and their frequent cross-border movements through the official and porous border points. He says that the mass vaccination drive is targeting more than 15,000 children aged between 6 months and 15 years.

The district immunization focal person Walter Ocira, says the immunization campaign will be conducted in all households in the refugee settlement and the refugee reception centre before it’s rolled out to the host communities.

According to Ocira, Palabek refugee settlement, Lokung refugee reception centre and the neighbouring host sub-counties of Palabek Ogili, Nyimur, Palabek Gem, Lokung, Palabek Kal and the two town councils of Palabek Kal and Lamwo have been mapped as the high-risk areas.

Ocira says the door-to-door strategy being conducted during the month of October is meant to boost the immunity of children against the deadly disease and also contain the outbreak and prevent it from spreading to other areas in the district.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Osborn Oceng reiterates that the district is vulnerable and they will not offer room for complacency due to the significant risks of a disease outbreak that continue to exist through cross-border transmission. He says they are tracing some children who reportedly migrated out of the district and urged communities living in the areas where the campaign will take place to ensure that all children receive the measles vaccine.

Oceng however, stressed that whenever similar campaigns are initiated, some people raise vaccine safety concerns but pledged assurance that vaccines being used for the campaign have undergone rigorous safety procedures and are safe to be administered to children.

He also warned persons who would oppose the campaign saying the government will take necessary actions against them for frustrating and depriving children of enjoying their fundamental right to good health but also essential to keep Uganda free from measles.



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