Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Immunization highlights: 2011

Vaccination in emergencies

Expert working group on vaccination in humanitarian emergencies established

In 2011, a SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) on immunization working group was established with the aim to address the question on what key scientific, ethical, economic, public health, operational and political criteria should be part of a decision-making framework to guide the use of vaccines in humanitarian emergencies. Through reviewing of vaccination experience in previous emergencies, compiling existing recommendations, and identifying information gaps, the SAGE working group will prepare a draft framework for decision-making in relation to vaccination in acute emergencies for discussion at the upcoming SAGE meeting in April 2012.

Emergency vaccination campaign on the Somali Kenyan border

Children waiting to be vaccinated
WHO/Pieter Desloovere

The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in over 50 years; child malnutrition rates are more than double or triple the 15% emergency threshold and are expected to rise. Malnourished children are more prone to sicknesses and diseases, such as measles.

In July, WHO Kenya and Somalia, UNICEF Kenya and Somalia, and the Kenyan Ministry of Health launched a cross-border vaccination campaign for children living around Dadaab, a large settlement for Somali refugees in north-eastern Kenya. After registration, newly arrived Somali refugees in the Dadaab camps are medically screened and vaccinated.

To protect the host population in the area, a vaccination campaign, lead by WHO, targeted about 215 000 children under five, with measles and polio vaccines, together with vitamin A and deworming tablets.