Preparations for South Sudan Ebola vaccinations another sign of change

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The training of vaccinators, clinicians and local organizers in South Sudan to begin administration of anti-Ebola vaccines to health workers in areas bordering Democratic Republic of Congo active Ebola transmission zones marks another moment in the current outbreak reflecting both immense challenges and significant progress. More than 2,100 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine have been allocated to South Sudan. Those who receive it will be monitored for 21 days.

The preparations follow the November start of Uganda health worker vaccinations in high-risk zones bordering areas of the continuing DRC outbreak. Both efforts have been proactive, launched in acknowledgement of the likelihood that the virus will cross national borders, but without the discovery of a single case.

The 2013-to-2016 West Africa outbreak that raised the profile of the high-fatality disease more than 40 years after its discovery, spread to capital cities of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as to Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria and most populous in Africa, before the emergency was acknowledged there, and a coordinated response launched.

Since vaccination against Ebola began in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August as part of the first response to an outbreak of the virus in a war zone, more than 43,000 people have received the vaccine in a strategy responders there are calling “ring plus” vaccination.

The effort in South Sudan, which will lead to the start of health worker vaccinations Dec. 19, is supported by GAVI vaccine alliance, the country’s health ministry and the World Health Organization. 

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