Immunizations resume in Myitkyina
Routine Immunization services in Myitkyina
Daw Lay Lay Maw, 24, a midwife from Puta-O arrived in Myitkyina, Kachin State just seven months ago, not long before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now working with the public health supervisor from the Myitkyina township health department to provide basic health services including immunization to children including Rumpu Ward, with a population of over 34,000.
When the Ministry of Health and Sports announced that immunization services would resume after being suspended for two months due to COVID-19, the dedicated midwife joined ward administrators under the leadership of the Myitkyina Township Medical Officer preparing micro-plans and virus transmission preventive measures to ensure public safety in advance of the immunization sessions. The support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was also key in the resumption of routine immunisation services after only six weeks of suspension. Taking necessary infection prevention measures, physical distancing and hand hygiene practices, national routine immunisation re-started in hospitals in all 330 townships and in 98 large hospitals from May 2020 and expanded to nationwide outreach services in June.
Immunization sessions used to take three or four days to cover targeted children in Rumpu Ward. But it is now taking eight days because of the need to follow the safety procedure guidelines from the central Expanded Programme on Immunization.
The day before immunizations restarted in Rumpu Ward, the local administrator went around villages announcing the news with a loudspeaker and giving instructions for mothers and children to wear masks and shields at the vaccination post and the dates and times of the immunization sessions.
Before opening the vaccination post, Daw Lay Lay Maw prepares the site, including checking the immunization and handwashing supplies and putting up physical distancing signage in the waiting areas to keep people six feet apart. Ward volunteers and administrators are in hand to support and ensure the handwashing and physical distancing is observed. The public health supervisor registers each child’s name and contact phone numbers are kept in the register for follow-up. Not more than 50 children are being vaccinated per day.