Updated
September 30th, 2016

Yellow Fever Vaccination Effort in Africa

Over 7 million yellow fever doses delivered in two weeks

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A major part of the largest emergency vaccination campaign against yellow fever ever attempted in Africa has been completed.

More than 7.7 million people have been vaccinated in record time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In less than two weeks, the campaign successfully reached the targeted population using an emergency vaccine – one fifth of the full dose of yellow fever vaccine.

This dose sparing strategy was recommended by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) as a short-term emergency measure to reach as many people as possible given limited supplies of the vaccine.

"WHO commends the Government of the DRC for this significant achievement to roll out such a complex campaign in such a short period of time," said Dr Yokouide Allarangar, WHO Representative in the DRC.

Planning a mass vaccination campaign on this scale usually takes up to 6 months.

This complex and ambitious emergency campaign was put in place in a matter of weeks to end transmission of yellow fever before the rainy season starts in September.

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The dose sparing strategy required the purchase and shipment of 10 million specialized syringes as well as specific training of more than 40 000 vaccinators to use this new method.

The Ministry of Public Health, WHO and more than 50 global partners worked closely together through the complex planning and logistics needed to roll out the campaign in more than 8000 locations across the country – both in dense, urban areas and in hard-to-reach, remote border regions.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has supported the international response and vaccination campaigns, deploying more than 45 experts to support these efforts since February 2016, in roles including: Incident Manager in Angola, Response Team Leads, Emergency Management Specialist, Laboratory experts, Public Health Advisors, Vaccine Specialists, Communications Specialists and Epidemiologists.

CDC is also working with the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in DRC to support the dose sparing approach used in the Kinshasa campaign, including facilitating an evaluation of the immune response it provides.

This study, funded by USAID, will help provide more information and inform decisions on future use of this method for yellow fever vaccination.

Through its US$ 20.3 million contribution to the global yellow fever vaccine stockpile, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has supported the majority of vaccine doses used in DRC and Angola outbreak response.