Cholera Vaccination Initiative Launched in Haiti

Vaxchora is the only FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of cholera

Haiti

Haiti has launched a massive cholera vaccination campaign, but many health officials have concerns regarding the island’s water and sanitation infrastructure. Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October destroying much of the southwestern region's water and sanitation infrastructure.

“The cholera campaign was initiated in two southern areas targeting 820,000 people,” said Ernsly Jackson, an immunization specialist for UNICEF Haiti.

Haiti has battled a cholera outbreak that has sickened more than 800,000 people and killed about 9,000 since 2010. Although tough to eradicate, cholera cases had declined from a peak in 2010-11.

This immunization campaign will mark the first time that so many people will be given only one dose of the cholera vaccine.

Normally, the cholera vaccine is given in two doses.

The two-dose vaccine lasts for two years, according to the United Kingdom's National Health Service, but it is not known exactly how long the single dose lasts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Vaxchora, a vaccine for the prevention of cholera caused by serogroup O1 in adults 18 through 64 years of age traveling to cholera-affected areas.

Vaxchora is the only FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of cholera.

Cholera, a disease caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria, is acquired by ingesting contaminated water or food and causes a watery diarrhea that can range from mild to extremely severe. Often the infection is mild; however, severe cholera is characterized by profuse diarrhea and vomiting, leading to dehydration.

It is potentially life threatening if treatment with antibiotics and fluid replacement is not initiated promptly. According to the World Health Organization, serogroup O1 is the predominant cause of cholera globally.