Mukudzei Chingwere and Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
Government yesterday commenced its milestone Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) programme, which has already earned huge praises from United Nations agencies.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Zimbabwe is the third country in the world to make TCV part of its routine immunisation programme. TCV helps to prevent typhoid fever, which is a life-threatening infection in both children and adults.
The vaccine is said to be effective and will provide protection for at least three years or more with only one dose.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said they expect the process to be seamless, given the well-documented collaborations they have previously done with their health counterparts.
“It is not the first time for us to do the huge vaccination programme, the Ministry of Health will lead the process and we expect it to be done well,” said the Ministry’s spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro.
“The Ministry of Health has been giving us the standard operating procedure to follow in schools so that we avoid a spike in Covid-19 infections, we are adhering to that and it is working.
“Now we are urging parents and all the stakeholders to support the TCV initiative so that we have our children vaccinated,” said Mr Ndoro.
Bulawayo province yesterday joined the nation in rolling out the TCV, aimed to protect children aged below 15 years from typhoid which has been mainly detected in Bulawayo, Harare and Gweru.
Bulawayo’s director of health services, Dr Edwin Sibanda said: “From June 2021, after this vaccination campaign all children in Zimbabwe will start to get Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) as part of routine childhood immunisation at nine months of age.
“Parents, teachers and other caregivers of children should ensure that all children aged six months to under 15 years go for vaccination at health centres, crèches, schools and community outreach points between 24 May and 4 June 2021 for these services.”
Speaking during the TCV virtual media engagement meeting yesterday, the Ministry’s expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) manager Ms Colleen Chigodo said the vaccine will be routine for children aged nine months to 15 years.
“Children under five years who were born between 2016 and 2018 and are yet to receive IPV will also get their vaccine during the same period. This year the HPV vaccine will be given to girls in grades 5, 6 and 7 in schools and girls aged from 10 years to 12 years in the community to protect them from cancer of the cervix whose roll out was disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-10,” she said.
The Vitamin A supplementation will be given to all children from 6 to 59 months to increase protection against common childhood illnesses.
Dr Maxwell Rupfutse, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) EPI said typhoid cases have been high mainly in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru due to lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“The resistance to ciprofloxacin, the first line drug used to treat typhoid during the 2019 outbreak, made vaccines an important intervention for protecting people against typhoid,” said Dr Rupfutse.