With the support of Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and other partners, the Government of Nepal today launched a new vaccine campaign introducing the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) into the routine immunisation programme across the country.

The three-week campaign, which will run from April 7 to May 1, aims to reach out to all children aged between 15 months and 15 years to quickly achieve wider protection from typhoid, increase the impact of vaccine introduction and combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Over 50,000 vaccination sites have been established across rural and urban settings in the country, including schools.

Immediately following the campaign, the TCV will be introduced into the routine immunisation schedule and will be regularly administered to children aged between 15 months and 15 years of age, said a joint press release issued by Gavi, WHO and UNICEF from Geneva.

"Congratulations to the Government of Nepal on this milestone. The introduction of the TCV will ensure that the lives of thousands of children are protected across the country for years to come, as well as help to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

This is also a great opportunity to leverage this introduction to identify and reach those children being missed by other life-saving vaccines and essential health services," said Anuradha Gupta, deputy chief executive officer of Gavi.

Nepal is a typhoid-endemic country and is estimated to have one of the highest burdens of typhoid in the world.

The nationwide introduction of vaccines means that children in the country under the age of 15 years will now be able to access the vaccine free of charge.

"Vaccines are among the best investments we can make to give every child a healthy start in life," said Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative to Nepal. "The introduction of the Typhoid-Conjugate Vaccine into Nepal's national immunisation programme will save the lives of thousands of Nepali children and is critical to tackle the high burden of typhoid in children in the country. This expansion and further strengthening of routine vaccination services in Nepal is particularly timely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the widespread impact it has had on regular health services."

The TCV campaign will also strengthen and promote routine immunisation in Nepal by identifying children aged 15 to 23 months that have missed other routine vaccines, and ensure that they have access to these vaccines and become fully immunised and protected.

Based on the lessons learned during the successful Measles Rubella Campaign in 2020, the TCV campaign will also be used to identify those children who haven't received a single dose of the basic diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP) vaccine. Zero-dose children face multiple deprivations and are the markers of acute inequities.

Children out of school will be identified through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and caregivers will be educated and informed about where to go for routine immunisation through the support of local leadership and health workers.

Good hygiene behaviour will also be promoted throughout the campaign to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"The Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine is highly efficacious and its introduction in Nepal will significantly reduce the burden of typhoid disease among children in the country," said WHO Representative to Nepal Dr Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav.

"Additionally, typhoid vaccination can slow the expansion of drug-resistant strains which is an emerging global health issue. Along with vaccination campaigns, Nepal must also strengthen surveillance for antimicrobial resistance, and work on the improvement of sanitation and access to safe drinking water."

Nepal is the fourth country supported by Gavi to introduce TCV into its routine immunisation programme. Pakistan, Liberia and Zimbabwe have all introduced the vaccine with support from Gavi and other partners, including UNICEF.

In addition to typhoid vaccination programmes, other efforts to control the disease, including health education, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) improvements, and training of health professionals in diagnosis and treatment should be encouraged and implemented in the countries.

73,000 kids to be vaccinated in Tanahun

DAMAULI: As many as 73,374 children below 15 years and above 15 months will receive vaccine against typhoid from 469 vaccination centres in Tanahun.

Health Chief Shankar Babu Adhikari said kids would receive the vaccine in two phases at a press meet organised in Damauli on Thursday. He said the first phase of vaccination would be held from 8 to 12 April and the second phase from April 13 to 26. As many as 336 health workers, 360 vaccine cadres, and 632 volunteers will be deployed for the same.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 8, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.