Govt rolls out second dose of cholera vaccine

The Ministry of Health and Child Care, with support from the World Health Organization and partners, will next week administer the second dose of the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OVC2) amid reports that no new cholera cases have been recorded in Harare city sinceNovember 2018.

This follows the first and successful oral cholera vaccination campaign last year, where almost 1 million people aged 1 year and above living in 13 high-density suburbs of Harare received one dose of the vaccine (OCV1) in response to the outbreak that affected Harare and other parts of the country.

The second round of vaccination targets over 1,1 million residents in the same cholera hotspots of Harare namely Mbare, Budiriro, Glen-Norah, Glen-View, Hopley, Mufakose and Waterfalls will receive their vaccine starting from 25 March to  April 1 2019 whilst Caledonia, Dzivarasekwa, Hatcliffe, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku and Tafara will receive theirs starting from March 26 to April 2 2019.

Director of epidemiology disease control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Portia Manangazira said this second and final dose will provide the people with effective protection against cholera for the next three to five years.

She stressed on importance of the vaccination programme, which is supported by GAVI, an International Vaccine Alliance, saying effectively targeting the hotspots prevents the epidemic from spreading to other parts of the country. Dr Manangazira congratulated Epworth, the cities of Harare and Chitungwiza, describing the first phase of the programme as a huge success.

The first round of vaccination conducted in October last year was part of the various public health measures put in place to control the cholera outbreak and to curb the spread of cholera to the rest of the country.

“We achieved high coverage in all suburbs and would like to thank the communities who were very cooperative during the first phase of the programme,” she said.

Dr Manangazira noted that all is set for the Ministry, City of Harare, WHO and partners to conclude the programme in the same cholera hot spot areas that received the first dose. She, however, urged the public to continue practicing high standards of hygiene and to drink water from safe sources; and the authorities to expeditiously provide the adequate safe water and sanitation that will put an end to the diseases.

“Vaccination should not mean that people can start being lax with hygiene and their health. People should continue practising high standards of hygiene to prevent other water borne diseases,” she said.

WHO vaccine consultant Dr Marc Poncin said the vaccine will protect people against the specific waterborne disease between three to five years if they receive the two scheduled doses.

“People who will receive the second and final dose will be provided with effective protection against cholera for the next three to five years while those who will receive only 1 dose will be protected up to one year” said Dr Poncin.

He added: “This will go a long way in curbing further transmission from one suburb to another in the capital city and to other provinces as it was the case with the last cholera outbreak.

Last week, 11-19 March 2019, 380,000 doses of OCV2 were administrated to people living in cholera hotspots in Chitungwiza and Epworth as well as Harare prisons.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has become the first African country to take up a large scale vaccination against typhoid, another waterborne disease which is endemic in Harare, reaching a target of 320 000 people in nine suburbs, between 25 February and 04 March 2019.

Both cholera and typhoid outbreaks have been associated with increased use of contaminated boreholes and shallow wells due to municipal water shortages in the city and inadequate sewage system. Correcting these deficiencies will see the country successfully eliminating these infectious threats.