I am Biyinzika Pauline, a 21-year-old female U-Reporter, currently volunteering at the Wakiso Epi Centre Health Centre III alongside the Village Health Teams (VHTs). In my community, U-Report has continuously sent out text messages and shared posts on social media about the different immunization activities and Ebola sensitization, encouraging U-Reporters to be a part of them.
Thanks to the promotion efforts, I have been part of the COVID-19 vaccination program and Ebola sensitization, and most recently, I volunteered to be part of the door-to-door national polio vaccination program that started on January 20 and was completed on January 30. This program involved talking with community members to encourage the vaccination of children below the age of five. In addition, during the visits, the VHTs administered polio vaccine drops to safeguard the children against the disease.
Serving my community as a U-Reporter has been an amazing and challenging opportunity for me. I worked with a group of Village Health Teams and U-Reporters in the door-to-door national polio immunization exercise, and we faced many challenges. A part of the population has come up with myths surrounding the different vaccines and is unwilling to let their children get immunized. These myths include the belief that their children would become disabled or die due to the polio vaccine. This has hindered the expected reach of beneficiaries in the community.
We have also experienced some degree of animosity from different people who were hesitant to listen. This made it difficult to convince them of the program's benefit for their children since some were unwilling to talk with us.
However, it hasn’t all been bad. Thanks to the sensitization, we have had a fair share of the population embracing the polio vaccination. There is also a reduced rate of outbreaks as a result of the door-to-door polio vaccination exercise that reaches all people unable to meet the services at different health centers. I have also gained better interpersonal skills through interactions with different people. I urge other young people to join and participate in activities taking part in their surroundings; together, we can improve vaccine access in our communities.
Credit: Biyinzika Pauline, U-Reporter Uganda
About the National House-to-House Polio immunization campaign:
Biyinzika Pauline is one of the U-Reporters who volunteered to support the National House-to-House Polio immunization campaign, which has benefited over 9.7 million children under 5 years of age in its first round. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, WHO, and partners, conducted two rounds of the House-to-House Polio immunization Campaign with the objective of interrupting the circulation of Polio and further importation of Polio prevented by increasing population immunity. The key actions by the Ministry included efforts to enhance surveillance, strengthen routine immunization, enhance communication on surveillance, routine immunization, and vaccination response.