Uganda tackles yellow fever with new travel requirement, vaccination campaign for millions

Uganda has launched a nationwide yellow fever vaccination campaign to help protect its population from the mosquito-borne disease that has long been a threat.

KAMPALA, Uganda – Uganda has launched a nationwide yellow fever vaccination campaign to help protect its population from the mosquito-borne disease that has long been a threat.

By the end of April, Ugandan authorities had vaccinated 12.2 million people out of a target of 14 million, said Dr. Michael Paganesi, responsible for immunization at the Ministry of Health.

Paganesi said Uganda will now require everyone traveling to and from the country to have a yellow fever vaccination card as an international health regulation.

Ugandan authorities hope the requirement will force more people to get the yellow fever vaccine amid a general atmosphere of vaccine hesitancy that is worrying health care providers in the East African country.

The single-dose vaccine has been provided free of charge to Ugandans between the ages of 1 and 60 years. Vaccination centers in the capital, Kampala, and elsewhere included schools, universities, hospitals and local government units.

Before then, Ugandans typically paid $27 for the yellow fever vaccine at private clinics.

Uganda, with a population of 45 million, is one of 27 countries on the African continent classified as being at high risk for a yellow fever outbreak. According to the World Health Organization, there are about 200,000 cases and 30,000 deaths worldwide each year due to the disease.

The most recent outbreaks in Uganda were reported earlier this year in the central Buikwe and Bufuma districts.

Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of infections are asymptomatic. Symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, according to the World Health Organization.

Uganda’s vaccination initiative is part of a global strategy launched in 2017 by the World Health Organization and partners such as the United Nations Children’s Agency to eliminate yellow fever by 2026. The goal is to protect nearly one billion people in Africa and the Americas.

A mid-term evaluation of that strategy, the results of which were published last year, found that 185 million people in high-risk African countries had been vaccinated by August 2022.

In Uganda, most people get the yellow fever vaccine when they travel to countries like South Africa that require proof of vaccination upon arrival.

James Odette, a nurse working at a private hospital designated as a vaccination center in a suburb of the capital, Kampala, told the Associated Press that hundreds of doses remained unused after the yellow fever vaccination campaign closed. They will be used in a future group campaign.

Baganizi, the immunization official, said the Ugandan government has invested in community “sensitization” sessions during which officials tell people that vaccines save lives.


The Associated Press receives financial support for coverage of global health and development in Africa from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Fund. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with charities, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas on AP.org.

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