CAR: Vaccinating 73,000 Children Against Eight Diseases

An unprecedented vaccination campaign is underway in the Central African Republic (CAR). The objective? Vaccinate as many children as possible in the country against some of the most common preventable diseases.
MSF
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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is in the process of conducting a vaccination campaign of an unprecedented scale in the Central African Republic (CAR). According to official statistics from 2013, around one in every 10 infants under the age of one has not been fully vaccinated. MSF teams have already vaccinated more than 73,000 children. 

Video: MSF Launches Catch-Up Vaccination Campaign in CAR

An unprecedented vaccination campaign is underway in the Central African Republic (CAR). The objective? Vaccinate as many children as possible in the country against some of the most common preventable diseases.
MSF
In a country that was already a sanitary desert before the outbreak of violence in 2013, immunization coverage is very low. Today, less than 15% of children are fully protected against childhood diseases and epidemics are common.
MSF
Although effective vaccines exist, Polio, tetanus, diphtheria, Whooping Cough, hepatitis B, measles and certain forms of pneumonia and meningitis continue to kill children in CAR. The vaccination organized by MSF is a catch-up campaign, that is children only receive vaccines they should have already received beforehand.
MSF
MSF also supports the CAR’s National Program, which is supposed to vaccinate all children following a predefined timetable. Unfortunately difficulties of access, the failures of the health system and the recent upsurge in violence have long interrupted the program.
MSF
Before the campaign, awareness sessions are organized in the villages to announce the vaccination, convince parents to bring their children and explain possible side effects.
MSF
ndeed, receiving so many doses at the same time is tiring for a child’s organism. Parents are informed of possible side effects and paracetamol is distributed to them preventively.
MSF
To reach as many people as possible and address the issue of vaccination in a fun and non-threatening way, troops and actors have been hired to perform sketches, as part of MSF’s awareness campaign. The show parodies the conversations of adults in a household ... and the public seems to enjoy it!
MSF
The day of the vaccination in Berberati, it seems that awareness has paid off ... Indeed, the center attendance is very high. In five days, 14,000 children have been vaccinated.
MSF
Some vaccines are oral, that is to say they must be ingested.
MSF
Others are intramuscular. For all children of the world, injections are unpleasant.
MSF
In general, a bit of comfort is enough to make them forget the ordeal.
MSF
During this campaign, the teams have also taken the opportunity to screen all children for malnutrition. Detection is done by measuring the circumference of the upper arm with a strap.
MSF
Vaccination is carried out in three rounds as some vaccines should be taken in multiple doses. Vaccination cards allow for a monitoring of the immunization coverage of children. Around Berberati, the campaign has mobilized 370 people and committed significant financial and logistical resources.
MSF
To avoid families having to travel long distances, the campaign was held in over 40 different sites in the city of Berberati and its suburbs. For example here, the Muslim quarter of Potopoto, which had been ransacked during the crisis.
MSF
Respecting the cold chain is a challenge when the outside temperature is around 40 ° C ... The vaccine doses are placed in coolers on motorcycles to be sent to the vaccination sites.
MSF
MSF has been present in Berberati since 2014, when the city was affected by violence, to help the hospital support the influx of wounded. Since then, MSF teams are working in the general pediatric unit as well as the nutrition, maternity and neonatology units and they help with treatment of sexual violence victims at the University Hospital.
MSF