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Tanzania integrates measles outbreak response with COVID-19 vaccination in Tanga region

Farida, 34, resident of Korowai DC, presented her 18 months old baby for vaccination. Habiba, was vaccinated with second dose of measles vaccine. With no hesitation, Farida also received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccination having been vaccinated earlier this year.

"Protecting my child against measles is a divine responsibility," said Farida. "But I always ask myself, if I protect my child against measles and die of COVID-19, what then have I achieved," Farida asked rhetorically.

After a successfully launch of the integration of COVID -19 into routine immunization, Tanzania has been rolling out this process in several health facilities in the country.

With over 447 health team members comprising healthcare workers, recorders, and mobilizers, 86 supervisors from the region and five councils, WHOis supporting the government to control a recent outbreak of measles in the region Tanga region and with funding from Government of Canada through the Canada Grant for Vaccine Equity (Can GIVE), WHO and the government is sustaining the momentum for COVID-19 vaccination especially for the elderly, health care workers and people living with comorbidities.

"Reaching every eligible child to break the chain of the measles outbreak is our goal. We are not relenting till we protect them. The significant thing about this intervention is the integration of COVID-19 vaccines for the adults. We are committed to protecting and saving lives," said Dr. Japhet Simeo, Regional Medical Officer, Tanga region.

The 5-day intensified vaccination exercise is reaching over 42,000 children aged9 - 59 months in addition to over 37,000 adults above 18 years against COVID-19 disease. Other routine vaccines including polio, penta3, DPT and rotavirus are offered according to the status of each child.

"The response to the measles outbreak in Tanga region integrated with COVID-19 is a further demonstration that Tanzania has adopted the new norm which prescribes the integration of COVID-19 into primary health care with WHO's technical leadership and financial support, stated Dr William Mwengee, National Surveillance Officer at WHO.

As of November 2023, cases have been confirmed in Handeni Town Council, Kilindi, Korogwe, Mkinga and Handeni districts. Health workers and WHO are on the ground implementing the Periodic Intensification of Routine Immunization (PIRI), an intermittent vaccination exercise and depends on the epidemiology of the disease to break the chain of spread.

Today many children like Habiba and mothers like Fatima are accessing protection against both measles and COVID-19.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.
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