From the photographer: documenting polio vaccinations

- Ismail Taxta

A young girl is given an oral vaccination against polio (Ismail Taxta/Arete/UNICEF)

I have been photographing a national polio vaccination campaign in Mogadishu, Somalia. The campaign is implemented by @UNICEF, which is vaccinating 2.6 million children under five years of age.

The campaign began on Monday October 1 in Banadir region, at around 0700. A group of well-trained vaccinators carrying bags of medicine began their work, from door to door.

UNICEF’s vaccination team make house visits in Banadir (Ismail Taxta/Arete/UNICEF)

The polio campaign is important for the community — to prevent this dangerous disease, all children under five should be vaccinated.

I began my assignment in Hamar Jajab district in central Mogadishu with the UNICEF polio vaccination team, who were spreading awareness to the community using loudspeakers, walking from house to house.

Ibaado Hassan, 47 years-old, is a grandmother with 8 children living in her house in Hamar Jajab. After speaking with the team for a while, she allowed to them to vaccinate the five children in her household under the age of five. She smiled as she thanked the UNICEF team for the polio campaign.

Ibaado sits with her grandchildren as they wait to be vaccinated (Ismail Taxta/Arete/UNICEF)

She told me that she had experienced the danger of childhood disease — two of the children in her family had died from measles 20 years before. At that time, she and many others believed that the vaccination did not prevent disease, but after the information provided by UNICEF, her children now take the vaccination.

I followed the vaccination team for several hours on their door to door campaign. In many houses, more than one families were living, and had several children under five years of age with them.

Mothers wait with their children to receive polio vaccinations (Ismail Taxta/Arete/UNICEF)

After six hours, I travelled to Hamar Wayne, an old district where no buildings have been repaired for the last 20 years. Here, the polio vaccination has been going well.

In the district MCH, health work is underway, and women and children queue in long lines to get free medical treatment, including the polio vaccination. Mothers with their children told me that the vaccination campaign is underway after several days of polio awareness work by UNICEF.

A girl smiles to the camera as she waits to be vaccinated against polio (Ismail Taxta/Arete/UNICEF)

Once more, I escorted the vaccination team on door to door visits, and saw parents thanking the vaccination team for helping them to vaccinate their children.

Ismail Taxta is an Arete photographer based in Mogadishu, Somalia.

From the photographer: documenting polio vaccinations was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.