KAMPALA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's ministry of health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday announced that they are set to immunize 18 million children below the age of 15 years against measles and polio.
The ministry and the global health body in a joint statement issued here said the target population, which is about 43 percent of the country's population will be immunized against measles, rubella and polio.
Out of the 18 million children, 8.5 million aged below nine months will receive the Oral Polio Vaccine.
The five day countrywide vaccination exercise is scheduled to kick off on Wednesday.
"This immunization exercise will be conducted in schools for the first three days and in the communities for the last two, targeting all children under 15 years of age whether previously immunized or not in order to interrupt circulation of these diseases," said the statement.
"The campaign will be the launching pad to introduce the Measles-Rubella vaccines into the routine immunization schedule of the country. This campaign also provides an opportunity to intensify sensitization of communities on Measles, Rubella and Polio, surveillance, as well as identify and investigate any unreported suspected cases of these diseases," it added.
Ruth Aceng, Uganda's minister for health, said the campaign does not replace the routine immunization schedule in the country.
"Parents, caretakers and all concerned must ensure that all children receive and complete all the vaccines specified in our immunization schedule after the campaign," said Aceng.
"WHO approved the vaccines to be used and they are safe, free and effective," said Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, WHO country representative in Uganda.
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that spreads through coughs and sneezes and can cause serious illness. The symptoms of the disease include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes.
According to the WHO, the symptoms of measles appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.