Govt rolls out malaria vaccine

Malawi has rolled out a malaria vaccine that will see about 120 000 children getting doses in a period of four years.

National Malaria Control Programme deputy director Dr. Michael Kayange said in an interview the pilot phase of the vaccine, which started yesterday,   will be done in 11 districts of Lilongwe, Ntchisi, Mchinji, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Phalombe, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Karonga and Nkhata Bay.

The first child to be vaccinated at Mitundu Health Centre in Lilongwe

He said: “We are introducing the vaccine into the routine system as we want to see its feasibility. The vaccine will be done in a four dose schedule; at five, six, seven and 22 months.

“This means that the vaccines will be given four weeks after the first dose, then another four weeks after second and lastly the fourth dose will be administered 15 months after third dose. Again, in those 11 districts, it is being done at selected sites and not entirely.”

Kayange  said the vaccine is a complementary intervention, meaning it is not complete but will work with other interventions to protect children from malaria.

On his part, Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango said the World Health Organisation approved Malawi, together with Kenya and Ghana, to pilot the malaria vaccine based on the threat of the disease in these countries.

The vaccine’s efficacy and safety trial began in May 2009 and ended in early 2014.

It involved infants and young children at 11 sites in seven African countries including Malawi where it was conducted by UNC Project in Lilongwe.

As with other vaccines, the malaria jab has effects like pain, redness and swelling, drowsiness, irritability and loss of appetite.

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