Sierra Leone addresses potential cholera outbreak with vaccine program

An oral vaccine for cholera. Photo by: Niklas Morberg / CC BY-NC Source:

After mudslides killed hundreds of people in Sierra Leone in August, the country is taking steps to prevent an outbreak of cholera. The government, UNICEF and WHO requested assistance from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). GAVI made a donation of 1 million doses of cholera vaccine on “a compassionate basis” amid fears of a major outbreak if vulnerable communities are left untreated.

WHO officials felt the vaccine campaign was justified because of preexisting water and sanitation infrastructure. The oral cholera vaccine campaign, scheduled for two stages, is the first of its kind in Sierra Leone. The campaign targets 25 communities in Western Freetown deemed to have most vulnerable populations. The vaccine is offered free of charge for everyone over 1 year of age living in the targeted areas, and is being coupled with other cholera preventative measures including water purification tablets and construction of proper restroom facilities. No confirmed cholera cases have been detected since the August 14 mudslides.

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