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The two rounds of mass vaccination against cholera in the central Mozambican province of Sofala were successful, reaching the great majority of the target population (people over the age of one), according to the deputy national director of the National Health Institute, Eduardo Samo Gudo, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
The vaccination campaign was organised for fear that the destruction caused by cyclone Idai, which hit Sofala on 14 March, would create conditions favourable for the spread of cholera.
There was indeed a cholera outbreak in March and April, particularly in the provincial capital, Beira. About 6,000 people were diagnosed with cholera, of whom eight died. The health authorities believe that without the vaccination, the situation would have been much worse.
The first round of vaccination ran from 3-10 April in Beira, and the districts of Buzi, Dondo and Nhamatanda. Samo Gudo said that 849,000 people were vaccinated in April, which was 98 per cent of the target figure.
The second round of vaccination, from 15-19 July, reached 815,000 people, or 95 per cent of the target.
Vaccination with only one dose confers immunity against cholera for about six months. But those who receive two doses should be immune for five years.
Samo Gudo said the success of the two vaccination rounds “created the conditions to achieve two major objectives – first to ensure control of cases of cholera in Sofala, and second to guarantee long term protection of people affected by the cyclone, since all the people who took both doses of the vaccine will be immune for the next five years”.
The next rainy season is due to start in October, and since the Beira water and sanitation systems have not yet recovered from the cyclone, there is a high risk of a further cholera outbreak in Beira – but with much of the city’s population fully vaccinated, the number of cases of the disease should be minimal.
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