In 2011, Bolivia initiated a measles-rubella follow-up campaign as part of its strategy to maintain measles and rubella elimination in the Region of the Americas and in response to the risk of virus reintroduction due to large outbreaks in Europe and Africa. Bolivia set a goal to vaccinate: 917,546 children aged two-five years old; all women aged 22-44 years old that were not vaccinated during the "speed-up campaign" of 2006 because of pregnancy; health care work-ers; and personnel in contact with tourists and travelers (airports, hotels and transportation terminals).
After it was established that vaccination coverage had not reached >75% at the end of 2011, an innovative strategy called VACUNATON, was designed to achieve the vaccination goals. The VACUNATON was a mass campaign conducted on 15 April 2012 in 48 of 323 municipalities, selected due to their risk for measles and rubella. The goal was to vaccinate up to 200,000 children, aged two-five years old, who were not vaccinated during the follow-up campaign conducted between October and November 2011. The most important media strategy featured a live television broadcast, which covered the national launches in all the main cities of the country.
The main partners involved in the VACUNATON initiative were Bolivia’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) of the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Bolivian Network for Communication in Risk (REBCOR), the Catholic University, Armed Forces and National Police, health Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), television channels and every EPI team responsible for immunization and social communication at the departmental level. The EPI mobilized personnel and funds to purchase all vaccines and supplies as well as logistics, transport and cold chain expenses. A nationwide health sector strike that lasted from 15 March to 15 May 2012 threatened the VACUNATON. However, a compromise was reached between the conflicting parties, which allowed resumption of the organization and implementation of VACUNATON.
During the VACUNATON, Bolivia vaccinated 177,976 children aged two-five years old.
As of November 2012, Bolivia has achieved >95% coverage against measles and rubella nationwide.
Published in Global Immunization Newsletter, January 2013.