DRC begins Ebola vaccinations following boy’s death
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has begun vaccinating people against Ebola after the recent death of a boy from the virus, health officials said.
According to WHO, vaccinations began in the DRC’s North Kivu Province on Wednesday, a week after the young boy died.
The boy lived in the same community where a father and his two children died in September after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms. None of the three was tested for Ebola or buried in a safe manner, WHO said. North Kivu is only months removed from the end of an Ebola outbreak that killed six people.
More than 170 contacts of the boy have already been identified and are being monitored, according to WHO.
“Ebola is a virulent, lethal virus that can spread aggressively and fast. But vaccines can create a firewall of protection around cases, stopping the chain of transmission, averting a potentially large outbreak and saving many lives,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MD, MPH, said in a press release. “The Democratic Republic of the Congo is spearheading the efforts to halt this latest Ebola resurgence, banking on expertise built in responding to previous outbreaks.
According to WHO, 1,000 doses of Merck’s Ebola vaccine and other medical supplies were delivered to Goma city in North Kivu and around 200 doses were sent to Beni city near the Butsili health area where the boy lived.
Officials are using the “ring vaccination” approach, which has been successful in previous Ebola outbreaks, beginning with people at high risk, such as contacts of the confirmed case and first responders.
WHO said 12,000 additional vaccine doses are available in nearby Kinshasa if needed.