Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health is introducing yellow fever vaccination on its routine immunization schedule in Uganda. This will bring the number of immunizable diseases under this program from thirteen to fourteen.
Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said they are finalizing plans to start dispensing the jab which until today is given in one-off campaign mode in high-risk districts and yet it’s a requirement for travel in many countries including neighboring Kenya and Tanzania.
She said the expansion of their vaccine program to include yellow fever and later on meningitis is partly why they are expanding their cold chain capacity.
This was revealed on Wednesday 12, January 2022 as she flagged off $8.3 million worth of refrigeration equipment to districts and health facilities that have been experiencing challenges storing key drugs, especially vaccines that require very low temperatures.
The consignment of over 1,300 solar-powered refrigerators, vaccine carriers, and walk-in refrigerators among others will help them curb not just wastage but also bridge the number of children who remain unimmunized due to access challenges.
According to National Medical Store (NMS) figures, the country’s cold chain capacity for drugs that require temperatures between 2 to 5 degrees is at 300 million doses, that of between -15 and -25 degrees is at 35 million doses whereas the coldest of -50 to -80 degrees that they have been using to store the likes of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is 45 million doses.
She says that with the new equipment, they are securing more cold chain space of 115 million doses for vaccines and other drugs that require temperature ranges of 2 to 5 degrees. When it comes to those that require temperatures -15 to -25 degrees, they are getting space for more than five million doses.
Dr. Alfred Driwale, of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI) says this new stock comes in handy when they are grappling with an increasing number of unvaccinated children. For just polio, the ministry said a total of two million children had missed vaccination by August last year.
Driwale says apart from measles whose uptake until recently has been the lowest, they are now seeing through their monthly surveillance reports that BCG, the vaccine against leprosy and severe forms of TB is the least accessed by children.