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Ebola fears force Uganda to shelve polio vaccination drive

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LUWEERO, UGANDA: Children under 5 years old are being vaccinated against polio virus within a vaccination campaign carried out by Ugandan Ministry of Health in Luweero district in Uganda on November 4, 2022. (Nicholas Kajoba - Anadolu Agency)
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Nov 08, 2022 - 10:28 PM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – Uganda has suspended a nationwide polio vaccination campaign due to growing fears over an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the country.

Officials were aiming to vaccinate some 8.7 million children in the door-to-door drive that kicked off on Nov. 4.

The campaign has been called off for now as Uganda grapples with an Ebola outbreak that has claimed at least 53 lives since September.

According to latest Health Ministry data, there have been 135 infections confirmed in the country over the past three months.

At least 18 Ebola patients are currently in hospitals, while nearly 2,200 people are being monitored as close contacts.

Uganda and the African region were declared free of the wild poliovirus by the World Health Organization in August 2020.

However, just a year later, Uganda reported a fresh polio outbreak after the virus was found in fecal samples in the capital Kampala.

“Immunization is an important tool in the fight against polio. Last year the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted vaccinations and it’s Ebola this year. This is a cause for worry,” Fatuma Nakintu, a Health Ministry official, told Anadolu Agency.

Emmanuel Ainebyoona, a spokesperson for the ministry, said the government is actively working to bolster polio surveillance, including cross-border collaboration.

“We want to continue immunization drives to reach each and every child. Failure to contain this now could lead to a much larger resurgence of the disease,” he said.

The Ugandan government has yet to announce when it plans to resume the suspended polio vaccination drive.

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