Large Childhood Immunization Campaign Begins In Haiti, With Support From U.S., Other International Partners

Haiti, the U.S. and other international partners on Monday launched “a nationwide vaccination campaign in the Caribbean country that seeks to curb or prevent infectious diseases, health officials said,” the Associated Press/Fox News reports. The campaign will include immunizations against measles, rubella and polio, as well as the pentavalent vaccine, which is effective against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b, according to the news agency. Immunization rates are low in Haiti, with the WHO reporting slightly more than half of the population immunized for measles and polio, but the current campaign aims to vaccinate 90 percent of Haiti’s youth population, according to Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume, the news agency notes.

“On a two-day visit to Haiti, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the effort … is critical because the country is especially vulnerable to diseases brought from outside,” according to the AP. “‘We know the population in Haiti remains at risk for cases imported from other parts of the world because of low vaccine coverage rates here for both polio and measles rubella among infants,’ Sebelius told reporters following a tour of the Eliazar Germain hospital in Haiti’s capital. ‘That’s why an important part of the reconstruction efforts after the January 2010 earthquake response was rebuilding the childhood immunization infrastructure,'” she said, the news agency notes. The campaign is “supported in part by the GAVI Alliance, a group of international health organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,” the AP writes (4/17).