We may have been caught off guard by the recent outbreak of yellow fever in Angola, but we shouldn’t have been too surprised. Following declining levels of yellow fever immunization in 2013, subsequent efforts resulted in only 77 percent of Angolan children being immunized in 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Angola’s most recent outbreak, which left over 200 people dead after spreading across parts of the country, has emphasized the need to strengthen routine immunization systems in Africa.
Angola has suffered periodic shortages of the yellow fever vaccine in the past five years, along with a decline in immunization coverage overall. Only 80 percent of children were immunized with a third dose of the diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus (DPT) vaccine in 2014, down from 93 percent in 2013. The resurgence of yellow fever in Angola is a sign that the country’s routine immunization system has fallen behind.