In March 2023 WHO Africa reported that the Ugandan Ministry of Health is planning to vaccinate over 1.9 million children against yellow fever in collaboration with UNICEF, WHO, and Gavi. Uganda was one of 14 African countries that reported confirmed cases of yellow fever in 2022

Yellow fever is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti or Haemagogus mosquito species. Infections can cause serious illness and, for between 30% and 60% of patients with severe cases, death. Although there are “no specific therapeutics” there is a vaccine. It is “safe, highly effective, and only a single dose is needed for lifelong protection”.  

Uganda is a “high-risk country” for transmission due to less than 10% of the population being immunised against yellow fever. It confirms “sporadic outbreaks” every 3 to 5 years. Most recently, cases have been reported in urban areas, which is where around 24% of Ugandans live.  

Strategy and collaboration 

WHO reports that, with the support of the Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy and key partners, a “multi-country outbreak response” was organised in countries that face “more serious yellow fever transmission”.  

In October 2022, during Integrated Child Health Days (ICHD), Uganda moved forward with plans to introduce the yellow fever vaccine into routine immunisation. This was despite the declaration of an Ebola outbreak just a month before. Children aged 9 months will be vaccinated with yellow fever and measles-rubella vaccines.  

Commitment to control 

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero is Uganda’s Minister of Health and is “committed to controlling yellow fever transmission”.  

“We want to ensure that our people are protected against this high-threat disease, and vaccines remain the main tool we have.”  

Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, Who Representative in Uganda, applauded this “important step towards immunisation against yellow fever”.

“Vaccination is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever, and the prevention of outbreaks can only be achieved if the majority of the population is immunised.”  

Thabani Maphosa serves as Gavi’s Managing Director, Country Programmes Delivery, and believes the introduction of this vaccine is “so important” after a rise in recent outbreaks. He hopes that the commitment of the government will “save many lives”.  Dr M. Munir A. Safieldin, UNICEF Representative to Uganda, stated that “there is no cure for yellow fever” but it “can be prevented”. The addition of a vaccine to the routine immunisation schedule is “critical” to saving children’s lives and “eliminating epidemics”.  

We will hear more on routine immunisations at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington next month. Join us by purchasing your tickets here.