NTOROKO – Uganda has for the first time imitated a vaccination drive against Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) as a preventive measure against the disease that has for the past months ravaged neighbours, DR Congo.
The health ministry, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday in Ntoroko district, started vaccinating the frontline health workers against the Ebola.
The exercise had initially started with a two-day retraining of healthcare workers on Monday who will be the front-liners in during the Ebola vaccination.
Ministry senior public relations officer Emmanuel Ainebyoona said the vaccination drive is aimed at boosting the immunity of the frontline workers.
The five districts prone to the disease include Ntoroko where the drive will start from on Wednesday, Kabarole, Bunyangabu, Kasese, and Buindibugyo. Ebola broke out in Eastern DRC province in August this year and it has since killed about 200 people according to World Health Organization report and it reportedly continues to spread to areas close to Uganda.
As of November 4, DRC had registered a total of 285 Ebola cases, with a total of 200 deaths.
Mr Ainebyona said the vaccine is safe with an efficacy level of 90 percent and that it starts working within 10 days from the time it is administered.
A total of 2,100 doses of the ‘rVSV-Ebola’ vaccine will be administered to the health workers to protect them against the type of Ebola virus strain that is currently circulating in some parts of DRC.
This particular vaccine is currently being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type.
Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that the administration of the Ebola vaccine to frontline healthcare workers has been the missing link in the country’s EVD preparation and readiness efforts.
The minister explained that the vaccine is only available for frontline health workers who are at high risk of contracting EVD as they manage suspected cases.
“The vaccine is not available to the general population at this stage. This is targeted vaccination,” Aceng emphasized.
Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization representative to Uganda said the vaccination as a huge step in mitigating the risk of Ebola among healthcare workers.
He assured of its potency and ability to protect them effectively.
Although the Ebola vaccine is not commercially licensed, it is being used under ‘expanded access’ or what is also known as ‘compassionate use’ in the ongoing Ebola outbreak DRC.