The Sierra Leone government has unveiled plans to introduce the Rubella vaccine into its routine inoculation program in response to increased cases of Rubella-like infections in the country.
The Rubella vaccine will be introduced as a joint Rubella-Measles vaccine, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the two-in-one vaccine designed to take care of both viral diseases.
Measles is a highly contagious disease which is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. When one person has measles, 90 percent of the people they come into close contact with will become infected, if they are not vaccinated.
The symptoms of measles include high fever, severe skin rash and cough.
Rubella, on the other hand, is generally a mild disease, but it can have serious consequences for pregnant women and their children.
If infected with rubella in the first trimester, women have a very high risk of giving birth to a child with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
It often results in multiple birth defects including heart problems, deafness and blindness.
The two diseases tend to display similar symptoms, hence the need to create a joint preventive measure.
The Ministry of Health on Monday, 13 May 2019, announced plans to mount a nationwide campaign to administer the vaccine as part of the introductory process.
The campaign will target some 3.2 million children.
As part of the seven-day campaign, vaccinators will also administer polio vaccine on defaulter children, as well as deworming tablets.
The GAVI funded initiative which also involves the WHO, UNICEF and other health sector players, is expected to run from 10 to 16 June 2019.
According to a breakdown of information released by the Ministry of Health in Freetown, 1.3 million children of age 0 – 5 years will be targeted for Polio vaccines, 1.2 million children of age 6 to 59 months will receive Vitamin A supplement; while 1.3 million children 12 months to 59 months will get deworming with Albendazole tablet.