Ebola vaccination initiated in North Kivu

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Ebola vaccination
The Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced the launch of Ebola vaccinations for high-risk populations in the province of North Kivu.

The North Kivu outbreak is the second outbreak of Ebola this year in the DRC, occurring just over a week after the Equator province outbreak was announced as having ended (July 24th).

As of August 8th 44 cases (17 confirmed and 27 probable) have been reported in North Kivu, with an additional 47 suspect cases under investigation.

The outbreak was first announced on August 1st as a cluster of presumptive cases in North Kivu, which is situated over 2,500km from Equator province.

On August 7th genetic analysis from the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa confirmed the cases were Ebola Zaire and weren’t closely linked to the Equator province outbreak strain – this meant the Kivu cases were a new outbreak and the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, already in the country from the previous outbreak, could be used.

Work to prepare ring vaccination has begun in the Mangina health area just a week after the announcement of the second outbreak.

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The Provincial Health Minister and the Provincial Coordinator of the Expanded Program on Immunization were the first to be vaccinated, followed by first-line health workers from the Mangina health center.

A total of 3220 doses of rVSV-ZEBOV are currently available in the DRC and more have been requested.

However, it has been reported that the safety concerns may pose additional challenges to the vaccination program – with armed personnel carriers and UN peacekeepers potentially being necessary to escort health workers and carry out contact tracing.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO commented: “The DRC has once again demonstrated strong leadership in its early response to this outbreak. Ebola is aggressive. We must respond more aggressively. Beginning the vaccination so quickly is a key early step.”

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