Uganda introduced life-saving yellow fever vaccine into routine immunisation programme

In 2022, Uganda was one of 14 countries in Africa reporting confirmed cases of yellow fever. With the support of the Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy and its key partners, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a multi-country outbreak response was organised in neighbouring countries that faced more serious yellow fever transmission.

During the Integrated Child Health Days (ICHD) activities in October 2022, despite the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease outbreak having been declared the month before, Uganda maintained its plans to introduce the yellow fever vaccine into its routine immunisation programme.

It is being administered to children aged 9 months, as part of its commitment to the EYE Strategy, with a vaccine introduction grant (VIG) from Gavi. All children will be vaccinated with both yellow fever and measles-rubella vaccines.

The EYE Strategy is a multi-stakeholder partnership that provides support to high-risk countries on how to minimise and eventually end the threat of yellow fever epidemics.

Yellow fever is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti or Haemagogus mosquito species and outbreaks in Uganda originate mainly from sylvatic, or jungle, transmission. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates and then bite humans during agricultural and other activities in forested areas. Humans can then carry the virus to other areas, including urban centres, where it is spread by mosquitoes from human to human.

Yellow fever infections can cause serious illness and, in up to 30–60% of severe cases, death. There are no specific therapeutics to treat the disease, but early supportive care increases survival rates. Crucially, there is a vaccine against yellow fever, and it is safe, highly effective, and only a single dose is needed for life-long protection.

In addition to the success of the roll-out of yellow fever vaccine into its routine immunisation schedule, Uganda will start the implementation of a phased preventive mass vaccination campaign (PMVC) by administering 13 million vaccine doses in 2023, for which Gavi has provided funding through a campaign operations grant. This will target areas deemed most vulnerable to outbreaks.

Source: World Health Organisation