Save the Children supports Government's Measles Vaccination Blitz
Bridget, 23, from a remote village in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe knows measles can kill.
“Measles is a deadly disease and I know people in my village whose children have died from it,” Bridget says.
On August 16, 2022, the Government of Zimbabwe declared a national emergency due to the measles outbreak that has infected 6551 children and killed 704 children, according to the latest government statistics. To contain the outbreak, the Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, has rolled out the Supplementary Immunization Activity (SIA) campaign focusing on administering the measles vaccine and the vitamin A supplement to the 6 to 59 months’ age group.
To ensure no child is left behind, Save the Children is providing the Government with logistical support to conduct supplementary immunization activities in the remote parts of Chimanimani, Binga, Matobo, Beitbridge, Gwanda, Insiza and Kariba districts.
Bridget’s village is also experiencing the measles outbreak. The village is about 20 kilometres from the health centre, making it difficult for her and other community members to easily access child immunisation services. When Bridget heard that the health team was visiting her community to conduct vaccinations, she was keen to get her 8-month-old child protected.
“I am happy my child got vaccinated. He received the measles shot and the vitamin A supplement. The nearest health centre is very far and hard to reach. We appreciate that the immunisation services were brought to our doorsteps. It is my wish that we continue accessing health services closer to our homes,” Bridget happily says.
Supporting Vaccinations in Schools
Learners at Tia Primary School in Chimanimani quickly assemble themselves for vaccination as soon as the health workers arrive at the school. “Our teacher told us that getting vaccinated protects us from getting sick. We have learnt about measles in class before. It kills children, but if we get vaccinated, we are protected,” says a grade 5 pupil as she awaits her chance to get the measles shot.
With schools being the potential hotspots for measles, Save the Children is assisting the Ministry of Health and Child Care to conduct the measles vaccination blitz in schools in remote areas. This ensures that all children are protected and learning is not disrupted due to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy
Village Health Workers (VHWs) are trusted in the communities and known to help with many life-saving messages. Save the Children distributed Information, Education and Communication materials on measles to VHWs. The VHWs are making use of these materials to educate people in their communities about the benefits of getting their children vaccinated. “We have not recorded any measles deaths in our village this week. Most people seem to be taking heed of the call to get their children vaccinated,” says Moyo*, a VHW in Chimanimani district.