Via WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office: WHO mobilizes 510 000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to help control the cholera outbreak in Iraq. Excerpt:
Erbil, Iraq - An estimated 250 000 displaced persons will be targeted during the oral cholera vaccine (OCV) campaign to help control cholera outbreak in Iraq.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized 510 000 doses of OCV, and the 2-dose campaign is part of a strategy to prevent cholera transmission in high-risk areas and avert a potentially large-scale cholera outbreak in the 62 camps for refugees and internally displaced people.
Preparation for the campaign is now on its final stage in 14 governorates. The campaign begins with an initial round of vaccinations during the first week of November followed by – after, as required, a minimum 14 days' interval – a second round of doses, which will complete the vaccination. For such a campaign to be effective, it is vital that a second dose is administered. Targeted social mobilization, campaign logistics and health education are key components to ensure the successful implementation of OCV. In order to achieve herd immunity, all members of a family above one year of age will be vaccinated.
The cholera outbreak in Iraq continues to pose a threat inside the country as well as among its neighbouring countries. Since the start of the outbreak on 15 September 2015, the Ministry of Health has reported 2173 laboratory confirmed cholera with 2 deaths from 15 out of 19 governorates.
The trend of cholera cases has been declining in the last 2 weeks, however, some of the central and southern governorates namely are still reporting confirmed cholera cases. Over the last 7 days, only one confirmed cholera case was reported from the northern governorates which comprise Kirkuk, Erbil, Dahuk and Suleimaniyah.
Oral cholera vaccine
An OCV is proven to be effective and can protect individuals by 85% in short-term and 65% over 5 years with a good safety profile. Evidence shows that high coverage of OCV in the target population can result in significant reduction of disease transmission in the vaccinated communities.
The pre-emptive use of OCVs in emergency situations was recommended by WHO in 1999, and the use of OCV is not regarded as a replacement for proven public health interventions such as improving the water, sanitation, and hygiene situation in the target areas.