Afghanistan launches 3-day polio vaccination campaign
Today officials from UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan launched a 3-day polio vaccination campaign targeting 9.9 million children younger than 5 years, the third national campaign this year.
Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, and outbreaks increased in 2020 due to disruptions to vaccination efforts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country reported both wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) outbreaks last year.
According to the WHO, so far in 2021, 1 WPV1 and 40 cVDPV2 cases have been confirmed in Afghanistan, all in areas that vaccinators have been unable to access.
“We remain committed to eradicating polio,” said Luo Dapeng, PhD, the WHO representative to Afghanistan. “We learnt valuable lessons during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. These combined with the polio programme’s experience of managing health emergencies are important in helping us to safely continue delivering polio vaccination as we head towards a third wave of COVID-19.”
In addition to polio vaccines, the campaign will include distribution of albendazole deworming tablets.
Jun 14 WHO notice
Cholera vaccination campaign targets Ethiopia’s Tigray region
Ethiopian health officials and the WHO today launched a preventive oral cholera vaccination campaign targeting 2 million people in the Tigray region, where conflict has displaced more than 2 million people, most of them within the region.
In a statement, the WHO’s African regional office said the region is prone to cholera outbreaks, with crowded unsanitary camps and the upcoming rainy season putting the community at greater risk.
Health officials from Ethiopia are leading the campaign, with support from the WHO and its partners. The vaccine was provided by the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision with funding from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
The campaign is targeting those ages 1 and older in 13 of Tigray’s priority districts.
Jun 12 WHO African regional office statement
CDC warns of RSV increase in southern states
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) advisory about an increase in interseasonal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity in parts of the South.
RSV activity declined in April 2020, likely due to COVID-19 measures, and activity stayed low until late March 2021, when RSV detections started to rise. The CDC noted increases in two of its regions: the one that covers most of the Southeast and the mid-southern region, which extends as far west as New Mexico.
The interseasonal activity makes it difficult to predict disease spread, the CDC said. It also noted that Australia reported a similar spike at the end of 2020, as did South Africa in early 2021. “Still, RSV did not reach seasonal peak levels in most regions or result in widespread circulation,” it added.
The CDC encourages broader testing for RSV among those who test negative for COVID-19. It warned that, because of decreased circulation during earlier pandemic months, older infants and toddlers might be at increased risk of severe RSV illness, since they probably haven’t been exposed in the past 15 months. The CDC also urged healthcare providers, childcare workers, and long-term care workers with symptoms to stay home when sick, even if they test negative for COVID.
Jun 10 CDC HAN notice