GITEGA, 18 March 2021 – Health authorities in Burundi on Wednesday launched a three-day polio vaccination campaign aimed at inoculating nearly 700, children.

The children targeted are aged between three and four years, nine months, said Olivier Nijimbere, head of Burundi’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI)

Vaccination Children for Polio - Photo Deutsche Welle

Vaccination Children for Polio – Photo Deutsche Welle

Children Aged Between Three and Four Years Nine Months Targeted - Photo UNICEF

Children Three & Four Years Nine Months Targeted – Photo UNICEF

“In all, 675,962 children born in the period [between] June 2016 and June 2018 will be vaccinated,” Nijumbere told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

It is a catch-up campaign aimed at children who could not be vaccinated because of a global shortage of Polio vaccines between June 2016 and March 2018.

The initiative comes on the heels of reports of polio cases in eastern parts of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

Polio Vaccination for Children in Burundi - Photo UNICEF

Polio Vaccination for Children in Burundi – Photo UNICEF

Nijimbere explained that officials fear a cross-border spread of polio from DR Congo into Burundi despite the closure of Burundi’s land, air, and maritime borders to try to curb the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Children will be brought to selected sites across the country to get vaccinated, including to all health centers.

The risk of a child in Burundi dying before age five is almost 1.6 times higher than elsewhere in the sub-region according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Malarial infections are the main cause of hospitalization and mortality among under-five children in Burundi, according to WHO.

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