A second dose of the cholera vaccine will be administered to the public in the next 30 days, a Cabinet official has said.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Despite the cholera epidemic having been controlled, a number of latest cases continue be recorded in communal areas with latets having been detected in Mutoko.
Over 50 people succumbed to the water borne disease across the country with the majority of deaths reported in Glen View and Budiriro which was the hotspot.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said in an interview they are working tirelessly to see that they control the pandemic.
“The issue of cholera now is a control issue. We remain on top in control of cholera. Wherever it happens we get to know about it and we immediately take drastic action. So that is the standard. There is no change in that. All the provinces are alert, all the environmental health workers are at,” he said.
He said the next and final dose will be availed to the public next month.
“There will be another one. The second and final dose of the oral cholera vaccine. We should be starting by next month we should start giving the second and final dose. And the doses are available. That’s the most important thing. We will have another wave the minute we identify more. The public will be advised. The teams know exactly where they started and where they ended. As we get more resources and support from WHO we will get some more,” said Dr Moyo.
In the first dosage roll out, WHO targeted to administer about 1, 4 million doses.
Cholera vaccine consultant with the WHO Dr Marc Poncin last year said while the cholera vaccine was not a long term solution to ending cholera in Zimbabwe, it bought time for Government to rectify the water and sanitation hassles during the period residents would be protected.
He said the vaccine can only protect people between three to five years if they receive all the two scheduled doses and from six months to one year with one dose.
“It is very clear that the vaccine is not an answer to the cholera situation on the long term but this gives time to Government to find permanent solution to the challenges of water and sanitation in Harare. If nothing significant is done with regards to water and sanitation in Harare you can expect another outbreak. It is really buying time in order to do some of the more expensive and more time requiring interventions to improve the situation,” he said.
Dr Poncin said during the three to five years of protection, the vaccine will help to protect people from person to person transmission of cholera.
He said this will also go a long way in curbing further transmission from one suburb to another and to other provinces as was the case with the current cholera outbreak.
Dr Poncin said the vaccination will also prevent a possible second wave of cholera outbreak posed by the imminent rainy season.
“We have heard from statistics that the epidemic in Harare is decreasing this week compared to its early weeks. It might last for some weeks and we do not know it might restart for whatever reason, it is too early to say. However, the rainy season is a big risk factor so if we vaccinate before the rainy season probably we will be able to avoid a second wave of cholera outbreak that could even be larger than the first outbreak. We have seen that in other outbreaks,” he said.
Dr Poncin said it was anticipated that once 80 percent of the population in cholera hotspots are vaccinated the remaining 20 percent would automatically be protected.
Prisons were also not spared in the administration of the first dose of the vaccine.