Every child has a right to healthcare, but thousands of children lack access to quality healthcare in Liberia. Getting a child vaccinated is an important step toward combating preventable diseases. Nationally, routine immunization coverage declined in 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19, placing Liberian children at greater risk of severe illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Currently, there are vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. SOS Children’s Villages Medical Centre in collaboration with partners conduct routine immunization and campaigns in Liberia every year. The routine vaccinations help people including pregnant women and children (zero to five years) prevent diseases like tuberculosis, polio, pneumonia, yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, Cholera, hepatitis B, whooping cough, respiratory tract infections, measles among others.
Varney* aged three just received his first immunizations in August this year at the SOS Children’s Villages Medical Centre. Mercy* is relieved that two of her children have received vaccines. The mother of three took her youngest child, Varney to get vaccinated against measles and polio.
“I am happy that my son got the vaccines, he is saved from measles and polio,” says Mercy beaming with a smile. After consultation with the health worker at the Medical Centre, Mercy’s son is now vaccinated. “I would do anything to keep my son safe, even if it means travelling a five-hour distance,” Mercy Explained.
Varney is among the 3,960 children that received vaccines this year at SOS Medical Centre. In addition, 1,048 children were vaccinated last year. SOS Medical Centre is partnering with the Ministry of Health Zero-dose children campaign. Zero-dose children are those that have not received a single shot of a routine vaccine.
“Over the years, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia have supported the health sector in many different ways: supporting routine immunizations for mothers of child bearing age, children under five, and girls of age nine against cervical cancer; vaccine storage, site and central pick-up point during vaccination campaigns; community vaccination out-reach; providing health education and supporting the development and rollout of a digital system to speed patient treatment, among others,” says Quendi Appleton, Administrator SOS Medical Centre.
SOS Medical Centre routine immunization services reached 2,080 girls, while boys vaccinated were 1,880. Furthermore, 570 people received COVID-19 vaccines this year (Pfizer – 175 and J&J – 395). Another 625 women of child bearing age were also vaccinated against Tetanus.
As of August 2022, a total of 5,155 persons were vaccinated at SOS Medical Centre. Building on a decade of remarkable progress in the health sector – SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia Medical Centre five-year strategy seeks to innovate and partner to reduce the number of zero-dose children.
Written by Joseph Joboe, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, Communication & Brand Coordinator
*Name has been changed to protect identity.