Vaccination campaign in Liberia
This week, the Pipeline Community Health Center in Monrovia, Liberia, is working to resume routine immunizations that have been put on hold due to the Ebola epidemic. The effort is part of a nationwide campaign led by Liberia's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), and supported by UNICEF, known as the periodic intensification of routine immunization, or PIRI, which aims to rapidly reduce the number of children not immunized against measles. In Liberia, government data shows that monthly measles immunization coverage against target dropped from 71% in May 2014 to 55% in October 2014.
As cases of Ebola are falling in Liberia, health workers are encouraging parents to bring in their children in order to catch up on the mixed vaccinations. Dr. Rebecca Varney, the officer in charge of the Pipeline Community Health Center, said that some children coming in are 22 months old but have not completed their vaccinations.
Varney also noted the risk of unimmunized children spreading measles to other children in school, as well as the importance of vaccinations as schools prepare to reopen. "Children would come down with measles and the parents would not notice, and would send them to school…and it would pass on to other children." At this time if we can vaccinate the children to prevent them from getting measles, it will be so much better for our school system and other children will not get infected.
Monrovia, Liberia, on 2 February 2015
Photo: UNMEER/Aalok Kanani