Abdul Wahab is just six months old so is unaware he has made history. He is one of the first children in Somalia to receive the pentavalent vaccine which should protect him against five deadly diseases.
His mother brought him to a health clinic in Mogadishu, where the jab takes a few moments.
She said: “I brought my son here to be immunized. I was told that immunisation prevents diseases. In the past four of my older children contracted measles because they were not immunised, but today I brought my youngest child to prevent him from getting sick.”
The vaccine, which is widely used around the world, was launched in Somalia at the end of April. Vaccination rates there are very poor, in some parts of the country as low as seven per cent, as the country’s health system has been all but destroyed after decades of war.
World Health Organisation representative Dr Marthe Everard said: “The launch of the pentavalent vaccine is very important for Somali children, because it introduces two new antigens, especially for meningitis and for hepatitis B.”
The new five-in-one vaccine protects against Hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and the influenza which can cause meningitis.
It should mean that children in Somalia have the chance to live longer.
Senior programme manager with the private-public GAVI Alliance Anne Cronin said: “There were 171,000 children under five years of age who died in Somalia last year. Clearly we want to make an impact by reducing that number in 2014.”
More than a million doses of the vaccine have been provided to Somalia for the rest of the year. They will be used to immunise children under the age of one. Each child requires three doses before his or her first birthday.
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