It was the third day of the first-ever vaccination campaign in Africa against typhoid fever. Twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Nyamande was one of many mothers lining up in the unique outreach post – a shopping mall in a Harare suburb. Health officials were offering children and others vulnerable to the disease what promises to be a new layer of protection, especially for families living in conditions of unsafe water and sanitation.

Everything about this campaign was unique.

“Zimbabwe is the first country in Africa to benefit from the mass typhoid vaccination, which has been proven safe and effective,” says WHO Country Representative Dr Alex Gasasira of the campaign that ends today.

First, the Typbar-typhoid conjugate vaccine against typhoid is new, and, unlike the routine typhoid immunization, it has proven safe for children younger than 2 years (but older than 6 months).

In addition, Zimbabwe is the first country in Africa to have the vaccine and to have used it in the continent’s first-ever mass typhoid vaccination campaign as well as one that was launched in response to an outbreak situation.

“We noted with concern that typhoid cases in Harare had been on the increase, with the peak reached in December 2018,” explains Dr Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Care. “In order to prevent further spread of typhoid, we decided to introduce the typhoid conjugate vaccine in high-risk areas while at the same time promoting water provision, sanitation and good hygiene.”

The eight-day campaign took place in nine high-density Harare suburbs from25 February to 4 March. The Zimbabwe Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care and in collaboration with WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners, had planned to vaccinate 370 000 people, mostly children and adolescents, and had reached 73% of the targeted population in the first six days of the campaign

For more information please visit https://www.afro.who.int