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JUBA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's Ministry of Health backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday they had kicked off a reactive measles vaccination campaign targeting 37,390 children aged between six months and 14 years.

The ministry and WHO said in a joint statement that the exercise is underway in Juba County which has a history of recurring measles outbreaks with one outbreak confirmed in 2017 and a more recent one in 2019.

The campaign aims to achieve at least 95 percent coverage to interrupt the ongoing transmission of the measles virus in the county.

Acting WHO Representative for South Sudan Fabian Ndenzako said COVID-19 has disrupted immunization programs around the world, increasing the risk of severe outbreaks.

"Vaccine remains the most cost-effective preventive measure against measles. Thanks to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the ongoing reactive campaign focused on building immunity among over 37,000 children who are vulnerable to measles infections and its complications," Nadenzako said.

The vaccination activities are being conducted at health centers, schools and outreach centers to maximize access to all the vulnerable members of the community.

According to the WHO, the current outbreak started with the initial cases reported in mid-July which led to further investigation and confirmation of the outbreak. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the UN health agency said 79 measles cases with no deaths have been reported from the five affected payams in Juba county. A payam is the second-lowest administrative division below county in South Sudan.

Jamal Hassen, director general with the Ministry of Health Central Equatoria State, said that it provides routine vaccination services against vaccine-preventable diseases for the community free of charge to prevent children against measles.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases of humans that is caused by the measles virus. Measles is preventable and can be eliminated by vaccination. - Xinhua

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