Ebola vaccinations began Wednesday for Congo’s latest outbreak of the deadly virus that has already claimed at least nine lives.
Health workers in protective suits in Mangina, the village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where the epidemic was declared, administered the injections.
More than 3,000 doses remain in stock in the capital Kinshasa, allowing authorities to quickly deploy it to the affected areas near the Ugandan border. However, they face security challenges in eastern Congo.
If we want to stop the epidemic, we must respect the rules, the codes that have been established.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO HEALTH MINISTER, OLYILUNGA, SAYING:
“It’s true that you want us to carry out mass vaccinations of the whole population but the scientific recommendations are that this is not the way we will stop the epidemic. So, if we want to stop the epidemic, we must respect the rules, the codes that have been established. The codes in place are that we must respect the pillars (hygiene, dignified burial, vaccination) and when we start vaccinations is to go from circle to circle,” said Oly Ilunga, DRC’s health minister.
The country announced the latest outbreak on August 1 with four confirmed cases, a week after declaring the end to a previous outbreak in the northwest with at least 33 deaths.
Ebola is one of the most deadly infectious viruses to date, with an average mortality rate of about 50 percent. The latest outbreak is DRC’s tenth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976.