By Foibe Paavo
Swakopmund, Aug. 23 — The countrywide integrated immunization and vaccination campaign that was set to run from 8-19 August 2022 has been extended for the Swakopmund district which includes Henties Bay and Arandis towns as well as Walvis Bay district from 22-25 August 2022.
The aim of the campaign was to increase protection against preventable childhood diseases among the under-five, as well as protection against Covid-19 in those 12 years and above.
According to the Office of Governor Neville Andre, Erongo needed to vaccinate 37,284 people 12 years and above for COVID-19 in order to meet 50% of 70% target which translates into 3,107 people to be vaccinated per day.
The region also needed to immunize 19,198 under-fives against Measles and Rubella and provide an opportunity for pregnant women to receive pregame (iron tablets) to reduce the risk of pregnancy-induced anaemia (low red blood cells).
The region managed to immunize 14,648 children as of 19 August which gives measles and Rubella coverage of 76% regionally – this is below the recommended coverage of 90% required to achieve herd immunity.
While Swakopmund (65%) and Walvis Bay (67%) health districts were not able to reach the expected targets, other health districts such as; Omaruru district achieved 116%, and Usakos 112%, recording outstanding immunization rates.
The extension of the integrated immunization and vaccination campaign gives the Swakopmund and Walvis Bay districts a fair chance to reach their target of at least 90% for measles and Rubella.
“I want to thank the UN family, bilateral, development partners, and everyone who played a role in providing resources both in kind as well as in monitory term as well as mobilizing the community. As a government, we could not have done it alone and we appreciate your support,” said the governor.
“This campaign emanated from the fact that essential services such as the provision of routine immunization were interrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, hence the need to catch up and avert future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” he said.
The confirmed measles outbreak in the Omusati region during June has a potential risk to spread to other regions, especially where the measles and Rubella coverage is less than 95% was another compelling reason.
“Similarly, we are also hearing of cases of polio due to wild poliovirus type 1 and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus globally. Therefore, we need to ensure a high level of protection against vaccine-preventable diseases,” he said.
“Moreover, as a country and as a region, we are yet to achieve the COVID-19 vaccination target of 70% of the eligible target population by December 2022 hence the integrated vaccination campaign which was specifically designed to bring services closer to the community.
“The Ministry of Health and Social Services joined by other partners and volunteers will be providing Immunization and vaccination on a house-to-house basis until 25 August in Swakopmund district and the surrounding area as well as Walvis Bay district,” he highlighted.
“I want to once again emphasize that vaccines are safe, they protect our children and adults against vaccine-preventable diseases, it keeps our nation healthy therefore I urge all the parents of children between the age of 6 months -59 months to take their children to the nearest health facility for immunization.
“I also want to demystify the myth that the Government is injecting children with COVID 19 vaccine. This is not true, COVID 19 is provided to people 12 years and above after they have given consent,”
“Together we can make Erongo free from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Andre added.