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Yellow Fever Outbreak: South Sudan launches vaccination campaign


In response to the confirmed outbreak of yellow fever on 24 December 2023, with two laboratory-confirmed cases identified in Western Equatoria State, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and other partners, has initiated a reactive Yellow Fever vaccination campaign as part of preventive response intervention.

Yellow fever, an acute viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, poses a significant public health threat. Characterized by symptoms such as fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, the disease can lead to severe complications, with approximately half of patients succumbing within 7 to 10 days.

As of 3 February 2024, 48 suspected and two confirmed Yellow Fever cases were reported from Yambio, Nzara, Tambura, Ibba, Ezo, and Maridi Counties of Western Equatoria State.

“To address the outbreak, a multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, public health officers, entomologists, laboratory specialists, and risk communication experts conducted an extensive epidemiological investigation to characterize the extent of the outbreak, identify risk/exposure factors and implement control and prevention measures,” stated Honourable Yolanda Awel Deng, Minister of Health.

Dr Humphrey Karamagi, WHO Representative for South Sudan, emphasized, “The yellow fever vaccination campaign aligns with the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) by 2026. This reactive measure aims to protect populations at high risk and act as a bridge towards integrating the yellow fever vaccine into routine immunization systems.”

Targeting approximately 610 000 individuals aged nine months to 65 years in Yambio, Tambura Ezo, Ibba, and Maridi, the vaccination campaign utilizes doses secured from the Global emergency yellow fever vaccine stockpile of the International Coordination Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, supported by funding from Gavi.

“It is critical to stop the outbreak and halt further infections. Immunization is the best tool we have to stop the spread. With the deployment of vaccines, and associated supplies and equipment coupled with trained health workers and sensitized communities, we can protect the children and communities affected,” said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF South Sudan Representative.

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