Polio immunization campaign to protect 1.3 million children in 12 governorates of Yemen

21 February 2024

25 February 2024, Aden, Yemen – Around 1.3 million children aged under five will be protected against polio in a vaccination campaign launched today with the support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Ministry of Public Health and Population aims to reach every child and UNICEF and WHO are assisting by providing the vaccine, equipping with cold chain storage, funding for training and deployment of vaccinators for the campaign targeting 12 governorates in southern Yemen.

This vaccination campaign is in response to an outbreak of variant poliovirus type 2, which to date has paralysed 237 children across Yemen. Polio infection can result in permanent, debilitating paralysis. It has no known cure but can easily be prevented through vaccination.

For Yemen’s children, vaccination offers much-needed protection in one of the world’s most challenging contexts. The teams have been working around the clock to train vaccinators and make sure the cold rooms and solar fridges are working and cold boxes are in place to keep the vaccine cold from the moment it arrives in Yemen until it reaches into the arms of every girl and boy under the age of five” said UNICEF Representative in Yemen Peter Hawkins.

We know that it is not enough to tell parents why it is important to vaccinate their children. In Yemen, where parents are dealing with conflict, economic crisis and extremely limited public health infrastructure and services, we need to improve access to vaccination. We need to make it easier. In this campaign, we have worked closely with the Ministry of Public Health and Population to ensure the vaccine will be brought to the doorstep of every house in every community in these 12 governorates,” added WHO Representative in Yemen Dr Arturo Pesigan.

Mass immunization campaigns aim to boost population immunity in a context of increased risk. This polio campaign comes as children continue to be paralysed, and as testing of wastewater shows the presence of poliovirus in communities. The campaign aims to give girls and boys under the age of five an extra boost of protection, on top of their regularly scheduled immunizations and the supplementary immunization campaigns that took place in 2022 and 2023. A second round of polio vaccination campaign will happen after Ramadan.

The vaccination campaign in Yemen is part of the global effort to eradicate poliovirus, spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

February 2024 polio vaccination campaign in numbers

  • 3-day campaign: 25, 26 and 27 February
  • 1 290 046 children targeted
  • 120 districts across 12 governorates
  • 5882 mobile vaccination teams
  • 845 vaccination teams working from health facilities
  • 1 billion children globally have already benefited from novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2) protection.
  • Zero cost to parents: vaccination is free.


ENDS

Media contacts

Megumi Iizuka
Chief of Communications & Advocacy
UNICEF Yemen

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF Yemen and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/yemen

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