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Guidance for Immunization Programmes in the African Region in the Context of Ebola - Revised 30 March 2015*

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As a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has drawn huge global attention and response. Numerous queries about immunization services and the risks they present have been raised. Tragically in some areas, there are reports of increased vaccine-preventable deaths, such as measles. In this context, practical guidance on immunization is needed.
The specific purpose of this document is to assist countries to:

  • Maintain and/or restart immunization services;

  • Continue to disseminate educational and social mobilization messages and contribute to Ebola surveillance;

  • Provide guidance on infection prevention and control during vaccination; As the situation evolves, this guidance will be revised if necessary.

Countries with widespread and intense transmission
(Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone)

As a result of the Ebola crisis, regular health services, including immunization, have been greatly reduced or stopped for periods of time due to suspension of services, shortage of healthcare workers, fear, and the massive disruption of daily life. Rumours and misinformation about the origin and transmission of Ebola disease have spread through society in certain areas, leaving the public unsure about the safety of routine immunization. This has resulted in an increase in the number of susceptible individuals and likelihood of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks. Cases of measles3 are being reported in the Ebola affected countries and there is a significant growing risk of measles outbreaks. Such outbreaks would further overload the health services and inevitably result in child deaths. Consequently, in light of the decline in Ebola cases, it is urgent to focus efforts on restarting and intensifying immunization activities.