Congo

Republic of the Congo to vaccinate more than 4 million people against yellow fever

  • The preventive mass vaccination campaign will target nearly the entire population, ranging from 9 months to 60 years old in 11 departments in Congo.

  • Congo is located in the yellow fever belt in Africa, putting it at risk of deadly oubtreaks.

  • The campaign is supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and partners.

Geneva, 05 August 2022 – The Republic of the Congo has launched a preventive mass vaccination campaign that aims to vaccinate more than 93% of the population against yellow fever. The campaign, which begins today, will target over 4 million people in 11 out of the 12 departments across the country. Congo has set a goal of achieving national coverage of more than 95%.

More than 13,800 health professionals are mobilised through the Government of Congo for the seven-day campaign, which is supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and partners. A successful campaign will help prevent outbreaks of yellow fever, and enable strengthened surveillance systems that can search for and quickly identify cases. Pointe Noire is the only department that will not be involved in this mass campaign, as it previously benefitted from a reactive campaign, achieving 93% coverage.

“Yellow fever, which is endemic across Western and Central Africa, claims the lives of up to 60,000 Africans every year – lives that can be saved with a highly effective vaccine. We are proud to work with the Government of Congo and partners on this preventive mass vaccination campaign, which will ensure the people of Congo are protected against this deadly disease and will reduce the risk of deadly outbreaks from emerging,” said Thabani Maphosa, Gavi’s Managing Director of Country Programmes.

Yellow fever vaccination coverage in the country has increased since the introduction of the vaccine into the routine immunisation schedule in 2004, moving from 54% coverage in 2005 to 80% in 2015. However, the risk of an epidemic remains high and can only be reduced if the majority of the total population is immunised. According to the latest WHO/UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage (WUENIC) data, while the percentage of children in the Republic of the Congo who received three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis-containing vaccine (DTP3) rose to 77% in 2021 from 73 % in 2020, and coverage of the first dose of measles-containing vaccine (MCV1) remained at 68%, Congo experienced a consistent 2% downward trend in yellow fever coverage during the last two years of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic (from 2019–2021).

“The main tools in the fight against yellow fever are preventive vaccination, development of a global vaccine stockpile for response and support for greater preparedness in the countries most at risk. The Government of Congo, working with partners, will make every effort to achieve the objectives of the campaign to eliminate ongoing epidemics in the country,” said Dr Edouard Ndinga, Head of the Immunization and Vaccine Preventable Diseases (IVD) cluster at WHO Congo.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which can be deadly, but is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine. In recent years, deadly outbreaks of yellow fever in Congo (and neighbouring Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) have put the country at risk and on high alert of another possible outbreak.

“This mass preventative campaign in Congo is part of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate yellow fever epidemics (EYE) globally by 2026. Gavi, UNICEF, WHO and more than 50 partners are supporting the Government of Congo and 39 other high-risk countries to assess epidemic risk, roll out vaccination campaigns, engage with communities and deliver other response activities, including surveillance, logistics and supply, and laboratory diagnosis. The campaign will be integrated with a measles-rubella campaign led by the Government of Congo and supported by the World Bank to respond to an ongoing measles outbreak,” added Dr Chantal Umutoni, UNICEF Representative in Congo.

Notes to editors

About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 981 million children – and prevented more than 15 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation, above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot. The Vaccine Alliance employs innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Gavi is a co-convener of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. In its role, Gavi is focused on procurement and delivery for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners, UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery.

The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organisations that fund Gavi’s work here.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus.
Find out more about UNICEF’s work on the COVID-19 vaccines here, or about UNICEF’s work on immunization here. Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube

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