Tubmanburg, 9th September 2019: On 9th September 2019, Liberia introduced a second dose of the Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV2) into the routine immunization program in the second year of life. The introduction of the second dose of the MCV2 provides a unique opportunity to vaccinate a susceptible population that didn't get protection either as a result of not receiving the vaccine or not experiencing sero-conversion following receipt of the first dose of the vaccine.
The official launch was celebrated at the Liberia Government Hospital, Tubmanburg, Bomi County, and was graced by the presence of senior Government officials from national and sub-national levels; the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as representatives from stakeholders including UNICEF, UNFPA, JHPIEGO, Liberia Immunization Platform, Last Mile Health, Civil Society Organizations, Women Groups, parents (predominantly mothers), and the media.
Ambassador Julie Endee, Liberia's Cultural and Peace Ambassador, graced the launch as the guest of honor. In her speech, she emphasized that her participation in the program was not only an honor but a call to duty. She noted the importance of recognizing the need to strengthen Primary Health Care as a driving force to achieving Universal Health Coverage, in Liberia.
Dr. Mesfin G. Zbelo, WHO Liberia representative (a.i.) noted, with gratitude, that the introduction of the second dose of measles vaccination in Liberia will significantly contribute to reduction in measles morbidity and mortality as well as the overall child mortality. He said that, under the global vaccine action plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in the (five) 5 WHO regions by 2020. Dr. Mesfin emphasized that strengthening routine immunization is a critical component of the measles elimination strategies and forms the foundation for achieving and sustaining high levels of population immunity to measles. Additionally, he stated that, since 2009, WHO has recommended that reaching all children with two doses of measles containing vaccine should be standard for all national immunization programs.
Closing up on remarks, Dr. Mesfin said, the requirement for MCV2 introduction into routine immunization program is for countries to have achieved and maintained at least MCV1 of 80% and Liberia has already achieved 91% MCV1, according to the 2018 WHO-UNICEF estimate. He then congratulated the Ministry of Health, all health workers, implementing partners and development partners.
Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Mr. Evan Lablah also alluded to the unique opportunity the introduction of the second dose of measles vaccine offers to children in the second year of their life, who did not acquire immunization in their first year of life. He appreciated the role of leadership and ownership demonstrated by the Ministry of Health, and the parents (mothers) in the globally recognized progress made by Liberia to this day.
Recounting Liberia's immunization progress since the establishment of the EPI unit in 1978 to present, Mr. Adolphus Clarke, Director - EPI Ministry of Health, noted the tremendous progress the country has made. He recognized the major impact accelerated immunization activities have had on reducing measles deaths during the last decades. He, however, noted that in spite of the reduced incidence, outbreaks at the sub-national level continue to occur. He was, therefore, optimistic that introduction of a second dose of measles vaccine would provide an additional level of immunity to the recipients and the nation at large. He further informed participants that administration of the second dose of measles vaccine would commence today September 9, 2019, throughout Liberia to children aged 15 to 23 months.