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No pneumonia vaccines for Kampala

In an effort to protect infants from Pneumonia, the ministry of Health is rolling out administration of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), starting this week.

A total of 1,521,061 children below one year are being targeted and these will receive the vaccine when they go for routine immunization. The ministry estimates that the vaccine will save the country Shs. 2.5bn in direct medical costs. Uganda received the PCV, which also protects infants against life-threatening infections such as meningitis and sepsis, on December 23, 2013, after meeting all the requirements of the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The first consignment of 500,000 doses has already been delivered to the National Medical Stores, and the next delivery of 250,000 doses arrives in March. Delivery of the vaccines to districts started on January 14 and will be completed by the end of the month, officials said.

However, the vaccine will not be delivered to 18 districts including Kampala, Sheema, Gulu, Nakaseke, Mitooma, Yumbe, Adjumani, Alebtong, Moyo, Soroti and Mbale, among others, as they have not achieved the minimum requirements.

Addressing the media on January 17, State Minister for Primary Health Care Sarah Opendi said these districts should improve their chain logisticians’ capacity in quantifying and ordering vaccines, to minimize stock-outs, and train health workers to administer the vaccine correctly.

They also still have to repair vaccine refrigerators and label them and produce data capturing tools for monitoring vaccine patterns and the number of immunized children.

“Ministry of Health and its partners are finalizing all these requirements and this will, hopefully, be completed by the end of this month. The districts will, therefore be ready to receive the vaccines by the end of February 2014,” Opendi said.

The Pneumococcal vaccine is administered on the right upper thigh in three doses at intervals of six, 10 and 14 weeks of age. The vaccine will simultaneously be administered with other childhood vaccines such as DTP for Diptheria, Hib for Hepatitis B and Oral Polio Vaccine administration.

Opendi also said plans were underway to introduce two new vaccines into the routine immunization schedule. Next year, the government will introduce the HPV vaccine to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer and in 2016; the Rota vaccine will also be introduced to protect children against diarrhoeal diseases.

ninsiima@observer.ug

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