Georgia UNICEF immunizing 2500 children in Pankisi Gorge against measles

Working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF is rushing in vaccines and a mobile team to immunize more than 1,700 Georgian children and 840 Chechen refugee children up to the age of 15 by Friday. An estimated 6,000 refugees from the Russian republic of Chechnya live with host families in the Pankisi Gorge, where lawlessness, including kidnapping and gunrunning, undermine scheduled vaccinations, UNICEF said. The agency’s Representative in Georgia, Ould Cheikh Ahmed Ismail, pledged to reach children who have “fallen through the routine immunization net.” In addition to providing 3,000 doses of measles vaccine, UNICEF and USAID are providing special syringes to ensure the safety of every single shot, and leaflets in both Georgian and Russian on the importance of immunization. Children will also receive Vitamin A capsules to reduce their vulnerability to measles, respiratory infections and diarrhoeal disease. Each year 777,000 children die of measles because they did not receive the vaccination, according to UNICEF. The contagious infection can be complicated by diarrhoea, ear infections, pneumonia or encephalitis. Children who survive may be afflicted with lifelong disabilities, including brain damage, blindness and deafness.

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