Speaking on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo during a press briefing held on Tuesday September 5, 2017 at the Public Health National Emergency Operation Centre (PHNEOC) at Cockeril, Dr. Dafae said the vaccine will be received from the GAVI-funded global stockpile and will target areas particularly affected by the August flooding and deadly landslide, which resulted in over 500 confirmed deaths, hundreds more reported missing, while thousands displaced.
He reiterated that the cholera is a devastating disease which spreads quickly and kills fast, and risks can increase after severe flooding, adding that the Oral Cholera Vaccine is an important tool to better protect the country and affected communities against the disease which will ultimately save lives.
The Director of Disease Prevention and Control informed journalists that two rounds of vaccination are planned of which the first round will commence from 14-19 September 2017 and the second round will be from 4-9 October 2017, targeting 25 affected communities.
Speaking on behalf of the UN Family, UNICEF Chief of Child Survival and Development, Dr. Alison Jenkins said the UN is supporting the government in the response and recovery for all those affected, adding that within the health sector, they are focusing on meeting the immediate health needs of survivors, from emergency trauma care, safe water and sanitation, and psychological first aid, ensuring the country is mitigating health risks.
She informed her audience that after severe flooding, threats from vector and waterborne diseases can increase, noting that these threats include malaria, typhoid, cholera and other diarrhoel diseases. She added that cholera is a particular concern because it has had a big impact in the not-too-distance past, stating that in 2012, a major cholera outbreak killed almost 400 people in Sierra Leone and infected more than 25, 000 others.
Dr. Jenkins reminded the press that the vaccine will provide vital additional protection free-of-cost in communities which are considered most at risk of cholera, and many other partners to supply safe drinking water, provide sanitation facilities and promote good hygiene age-appropriate breastfeeding in the affected communities. She commended GAVI, UKaid, other UN agencies and NGOs for working with the Health Ministry to make the campaign a success.
Making his presentation on Oral Cholera Vaccine, WHO Team Leader, and Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), Dr. Simon Ogwang said the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) is a liquid vaccine taken by mouth that can reduce the risk of cholera infection among vulnerable populations.
He told the press that the Oral Cholera Vaccine can be used as an additional protective measure in humanitarian emergencies and in areas where cholera is endemic.
Dr. Ogwang said in Sierra Leone, the Euvichol vaccine will be administered, as it has been tested rigorously for safety and efficacy by the World Health Organization.