Zimbabwe today launched a vaccination campaign of half a million people against the outbreak of cholera that has caused, at the moment, 49 dead and thousands of infected, the great majority in Harare.
A total of 500,000 doses of the Euvichol vaccine are available for a campaign that will last until next Sunday, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The immunization will focus first on children under one child who live in the most deprived suburbs of Harare.
“If a person receives the first and second dose in a space of six months, then the vaccination will work effectively for five years,” said the head of Epidemiology, Portia Manangazira.
The vaccines will be administered in community facilities and churches, as hospitals in the affected areas are crowded with cholera patients, according to local media.
The government insists that infections have slowed since the outbreak broke out in the western neighborhoods of Glen View and Budiriro, in Harare, early last September, and spread rapidly to infect almost 10,000 people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that if the vaccination is carried out before the start of summer rains in December, a new wave of cholera infections could be avoided.
“The rainy season is a big risk factor,” WHO consultant Marc Poncin was quoted as saying by state newspaper The Herald.
The outbreak of cholera, an infectious disease characterized by abundant watery diarrhea, emerged in the slums of Glen View and Budiriro, after the leak in a sewage pipeline that contaminated the water from community wells that supply the neighbors.
Most of the peripheral areas in this city of more than 1.5 million depend on community wells since there is no potable water network.
The last 11th, the authorities declared a state of emergency, with the banning of street rallies in Harare, and the street vending of meat and fish, which some locals ignore as their only means of subsistence.
This outbreak of cholera is already the deadliest since 2008/09 when the disease caused more than 4,000 deaths and more than 100,000 infections in Zimbabwe.