The first ever mass typhoid vaccination campaign has kicked off in nine selected high density suburbs which were affected by typhoid in Harare, with school going children making up the bulk of first recipients of the vaccine.

The mass vaccination programme is in response to a typhoid outbreak that hit Harare last year resulting in over 1682 suspected cases and 39 confirmed typhoid fever cases.

Targeting 35000 people in nine suburbs in Harare, the campaign got off to a smooth start this Monday with school going children who make up the bulk of the affected population getting the first doses.

Children under five years are getting a shot on the thigh while those aged over five years are getting a shot on the arm.

A survey carried out by the ZBC News showed that there was a positive response by both adults and children at the 11 vaccination points that have been set up in Mbare.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Mass Drug Administration expert, Marc Poncin underscored the efficiency and safety of the drug.

There was also a massive turnout at Hopley clinic with the matron, Lorraine Mukwemu confirming that school going children and under five year olds got first priority.   

In Mbare which was hardest hit by the outbreak, residents aged between six months to 45 years are being vaccinated, while in the other eight suburbs of Mufakose, Budiriro, Glen Norah, Kuwadzana, Glen View, Hopley, Dzivarasekwa and Hatcliffe, the vaccination is covering children between six months and 15 years.   

The new typhoid vaccine which has successfully been used in outbreak situations in India and Pakistan, has been proven to be safe and can be administered to children as young as six months.

Typhoid cases in Harare have continued to increase and the disease was becoming rife especially between October and March every year since 2010.

The introduction of the typhoid vaccine is therefore expected to slow down the surge in typhoid cases.

It had also been noted that there was an increase in patients who were not responding to the antibiotic treatment, hence the introduction of the vaccine is expected to help reduce the spreading of resistant typhoid strains.    

The vaccination campaign will run until Monday the 4th of March.