The Ministry of Health and Medical Services with support from partners is gearing up for a nation-wide mass Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign for ALL children 6 to 59 months old. In its efforts to address gaps in the Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccination coverage the immunisation campaign will be held across the country ahead of 19th July when the national roll out will commence.
In 2021, immunization coverage for measles was only 69 percent for one dose and only 39 percent for two doses in 2021. Additionally, two dose measles coverage has continued to be sub-optimal in the country. In 2020, the two dose measles coverage was only 51 percent.
Given these rates (51%) of the measles coverage, the country is not safe from future outbreak of the Measles and therefore points to the need to scale up its efforts to ensure that the MR vaccination coverage hits the expected target of to 95% in order to interrupt transmission of the virus and prevent return of large outbreaks which is the primary goal of the micro planning workshop as part of preparation for the mass roll out.
An integrated approach to the mass MR vaccination will be conducted which will include administration of Vitamin A as well as COVID-19 vaccines for children 12 years and above.
As part of preparations a micro planning workshop was held last week where all Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and health promotion Officers from all provinces gathered in Honiara to compile detailed plans on how they roll out this integrated mass vaccination program in their respective countries.
Workshop participants included the Ministry of Health, Honiara City Council and the provinces. The planning workshop included sessions on preparing and organizing vaccines for roll out, safe administration of and vitamin A including COVID-19 vaccines, adverse events following immunization and communication to encourage uptake.
Jennifer Anga, National Coordinator for EPI, Ministry of Health said that the preparation involves micro planning for each of the provinces on how they will be rolling out the MR vaccines together with Vitamin A and COVID-19 vaccines. “Plans will detail how it will be rolled out, where to start and end and which communities each of the provincial teams will need to reach and how they can effectively mobilize parents to bring their children without difficulties to receive the vaccines”, explained Mrs. Anga.
The National Coordinator also highlighted that apart from increasing coverage to safe levels adequate to prevent any outbreak, the nationwide roll out of MR vaccines alongside vitamin A and COVID-19 vaccines is necessary given that the country will host the South Pacific Games in November with participation of around 18 countries.
She thanked all participants for their efforts throughout the micro planning workshop and encouraged them to fully implement their plans with commitment and dedication as the health and lives of our children are at risk of a Measles outbreak given the low coverage.
The Ministry of Health acknowledges the support of UNICEF, DFAT, and all partners supporting the micro planning and the upcoming National roll out implementation of MR and COVID-19 vaccines and Vitamin A.