Getting Vaccines Where Kids Need Them Most

A cold chain photo essay

Mozambique 2014

By Chrysula Winegar

March 25, 2015

Also published by Global Moms Challenge

Vaccines ensure kids like these cheeky young boys can be healthy and thrive beyond their fifth birthdays.

Vaccines in Mozambique are manufactured overseas and shipped to a national warehouse for distribution around the country in giant coolers.

Extensive testing of vaccines and the diseases they prevent is done out of the Manhiça Health Research Centre. Here, the director of the Center director discusses vaccine trials and testing with a research scientist.

Vaccines at the national warehouse need to get to regional hospitals for distribution around the country.

At every stage, temperature control is critical – not too hot and even more importantly, not too cold. Vaccine doses must be kept between 2 and 8°C which is 35°F to 46° F. The process of keeping the vaccines at the right temperature is called the “cold chain.” Alarm equipped monitors ensure staff are notified when power failure or other issues cause the temperature to change.

Once at the regional center, vaccines are ready for local use and the rest will be driven to district health clinics. Ice packs are at the ready for the long drive to reach rural health clinics.

Heavy duty four-wheel-drive vehicles are the best way to reach far flung destinations to get the vaccines to outlying clinics in good condition. The journey can be bumpy!

Mozambique is filled with gorgeous coastline and superb beaches. The drive might be rough in spots, but it’s breathtaking.

In advance of the vaccines delivery, local health workers have been reminding the community to come to the clinic to receive scheduled vaccines and other treatments.

At every clinic there are a range of health notices to remind the community what to be looking for or how to prevent disease and illness.

Mothers like Felisima miss a day’s income, walk more than three hours, then wait for another three hours at the clinic to receive their vaccines.

Families bring their vaccine cards to track their child’s schedule—some things are universal!

Baby Julio receives his latest vaccines. He didn’t cry a bit and was soon nursing at his mother’s breast.

Did you know every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable illness? Getting vaccines delivered to the world’s toughest to reach places will help change that.

Chrysula Winegar reported from Mozambique on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project (IRP).