World Health Organization (WHO) backs Mass Vaccination Campaign against Yellow Fever in Ethiopia

Reepa Agrawal
23 Nov, 2018

In response to the yellow fever outbreak in Ethiopia in September-October 2018, World Health Organization (WHO) has shipped more than 1 million vaccines for a Mass Vaccination Campaign. A smaller rapid vaccination campaign took place from 13 to 19 October 2018 and around 32,000 people were benefitted. These vaccines for outbreak control are being mobilised from Global Emergency Yellow fever stock pile which has 6 million doses, replenished continuously. This stockpile is managed by International Coordination Group on Vaccine Provision (ICG) and funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This outbreak response is funded by WHO and they will also provide technical assistance at the site. Seven day mass vaccination will protect high risk population above 9 months of age.

The first case of yellow fever was suspected at the end of September this year. Ten people have lost their lives due to this deadly illness which affected many more. No new cases were found after 22 October 2018.

Yellow fever is a vaccine preventable infectious vector borne disease. It is an arboviral disease caused by flavivirus, a RNA virus which is transmitted by mosquito bites (Aedes aegypti). The symptoms are like any other viral flu including fever, nausea, bodyache but what essentially differs is the course. If the illness progresses it affects the hepatobiliary system causing jaundice (hence named yellow fever) and complications of liver cell failure. There is no effective drug against it. This disease is endemic in various parts of Africa and South America. Most of these countries require mandatory certificate for travellers of vaccination against yellow fever. Ethiopia also requires yellow fever vaccination prior to travel. Also Ethiopia is a priority country in global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) by 2026, which also supports 39 other at-risk countries, 26 of them in Africa.

Yellow fever vaccine is a live attenuated 17D vaccine strain and is derived from a wild-type YF virus (the Asibi strain). It is given as a single subcutaneous or intramuscular dose. It is safe with no major adverse events.
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