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Sixty thousand Haitian children to receive life-saving vaccination as part of Vaccination Week of the Americas

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 29 April 2010 - An estimated 60,000 Haitian children under the age of five will receive life-saving immunization in the next few days, as part of the Vaccination Week of the Americas – an annual vaccination initiative covering 44 countries and territories in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The vaccination drive in Haiti is being led by the Ministry of Health with the support of UNICEF, WHO and the Pan American Health Organization. It starts on Saturday 1 May and will target the areas of Cornillon, Fonds Verettes, Gantier and Thomazeau in the country’s West Departement and Cayes Jacmel, Marigot, Anse à Pitre, Belle Anse, Grand Gosier and Hotte in the South East Departement adjacent to the border with the Dominican Republic. Children will receive vaccinations against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and rubella.

“Vaccination is the most cost-effective life saver for children – but the human cost of not vaccinating a child is immeasurable,” said UNICEF Representative in Haiti Ms. Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans. “The concurrent vaccination efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic also emphasise the collaborative spirit embodied by the Vaccination Week of the Americas.”

Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January, routine immunization efforts were severely affected; many health facilities were damaged or destroyed and interruptions to fuel and power supplies has had a major impact on health services – including the cold chain system that supports the storage and distribution of vaccines. In the areas targeted in the coming days, already weak immunization networks were especially affected, with the local situation further compounded by an influx of displaced families from other quake-affected areas – with pre-quake vaccination levels as low as 53 per cent, the Vaccination Week is therefore an important opportunity to re-start routine immunization in these vulnerable areas.

Children will also receive vitamin A supplements and de-worming treatment. Vaccinations will be undertaken at fixed centres and through outreach teams travelling to the most hard-to-reach communities. A total of 146 groups of vaccinators will work on the campaign.

UNICEF is providing vaccines, syringes and other equipment with financial assistance also provided by UNICEF and WHO.

This round of vaccinations will supplement an ongoing campaign that began in February and which has already reached more than 220,000 children under the age of eight in 687 locations in camps for displaced persons in Port au Prince, Léogâne, Petit Goâve, Grand Goâve and Gressier.

UNICEF works in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information please contact:

Edward Carwardine, Interim Chief of Communication, UNICEF Haiti, Cell: + 509 38 81 23 71 + 1 646 6512492, Email: ecarwardine@unicef.org




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