Community vaccinators taking the lead on immunizing children

James explains to a young mother what vaccine he is about to administer to her child. (Photo: Amref Health Africa/Maureen Cherongis).

Determined to save the lives of children in his community, James has vaccinated 86 children in his own household in a span of six months. As a Community Vaccinator, he is in charge of 150 households in his community, made up of approximately 600 people.

James is one of the 30 Community Vaccinators trained by Amref Health Africa to deliver vaccinations to vulnerable children in isolated communities in Ibba County, South Sudan.

Twice a week, James conducts door to door visits in his community educating mothers on the importance of vaccinating their children as well as encouraging pregnant mothers to attend antenatal care check-ups.

With mobile refrigerators that can safely store vaccinations and a book to record data and health information, James moves through his village to administer vaccines and offer vaccination education.

“When I vaccinate children, it protects them from life-threatening infectious diseases such as polio, measles, whooping cough and many other diseases,” says James.

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He explains that continued use of traditional medicine among the community, lack of health information, and misconceptions about vaccines have hindered many mothers from letting their children get vaccinated.

“Initially, it was difficult to convince mothers to get their children vaccinated as most people thought the vaccines will make them sick,” James says. “Together with other Community Vaccinators, we educate and empower people to adopt vaccination as a disease prevention measure.’’

Besides these misconceptions on vaccination, lack of transport to collect vaccines from the hospitals and deliver them to the community is another challenge that James faces. However, this does not stop him from serving his community diligently.

“I am a volunteer determined to help my community. I cannot stop serving them because of the challenges I face,” James says.

Richard, an Immunization County Organizer at Ibba Hospital, recognizes the important impact Community Vaccinators like James are making

“The outreach program supported by Amref has greatly contributed to the increase in the number of children immunized in this county. Vaccinators reach the most vulnerable children in the most hard to reach areas,’’ said Mr Matayo.

Though the challenges still remain, James continues to serve his community with a dream that no child will die from preventable diseases

In 2019, 1,962 children under five years and 1,189 pregnant women were immunized through this program.

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