Via Thomson Reuters: Haiti launches anti-cholera vaccination campaign. Excerpt:
The Haitian government along with international partners including the World Health Organization launched a vaccination campaign against cholera on Saturday targeting 100,000 people in vulnerable areas of the impoverished Caribbean country.
The program was launched in the slum area of Cite de Dieu, in the Haitian capital, where health practitioners are going door-to-door to deliver doses to pre-registered recipients.
"I am very happy that I received the vaccine because now I will live my life with less anxiety," Mariane Joseph told Reuters, after drinking the dose. "I have been waiting for this vaccine for a long time because we are exposed here to catching cholera."
More than 7,000 Haitians have died of cholera since an epidemic broke out in 2010.
The Director-General of the Health department, Dr. Gabriel Thimote, said the 100,000 beneficiaries in two regions in the west and northern Artibonite region will receive two doses of the vaccine, called Shanchol, that will protect them for two to three years with an efficiency rate of about 65 percent, health officials say.
"It is a pilot program that we are launching in two areas in the country but it will be later extended to the rest of the population with a priority for areas at risk," Thimote told Reuters.
In the capital, the program is being implemented by the Gheskio Center, a Haitian health NGO that specializes in fighting the AIDS virus and other infectious diseases, while another international NGO, Partners In Health, led by the U.N. deputy special envoy for Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, has been designated to carry out the vaccination program in Bokozel, near the northern town of St-Marc.
The Haitian health minister, Florence Duperval Guillaume, rejected allegations that the vaccine is experimental and could have side effects. The vaccination program was delayed several weeks after some critics suggested the campaign was a research project to test new, unapproved drugs.
"This is vaccine that has already been certified by the World Health Organization, and our campaign has nothing to do with an experimentation that could have recipients running risks," Guillaume said. "People have nothing to fear," she added.