Maputo — Brigades from the Mozambican Health Ministry began on Monday to administer a second dose of cholera vaccine to people living in parts of the central province of Sofala that were struck by cyclone Idai in March.
According to a report on the independent television station STV, the target is to give the oral vaccine to 850,000 people over the age of one in the city of Beira, in Buzi, Dondo and Nhamatanda districts, and selected areas of Muanza and Cheringoma districts.
The purpose is to guarantee the immunity to cholera of people living in the cyclone-hit areas, avoiding fresh outbreaks of the disease, particularly during the next rainy season, which begins in October.
Ilesh Jani, the general director of the National Health Institute, told reporters that, by taking two doses of the vaccine, people will be protected from cholera for about five years. Taking one dose alone only gives protection for six months.
"From the public health point of view", he said, "if, in these districts, we manage to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population with two doses, then we can be relatively tranquil about the occurrence of cholera outbreaks for the next five years.
The vaccination campaign lasts until Friday, and involves 350 brigades formed by 1,600 professionals, who will work in fixed points such as hospitals, and in mobile teams that will visit schools, markets, and other places where large numbers of people gather.
Jani stressed that vaccination is a complementary measure. The main key to fighting cholera remained ensuring that water supplies are clean, decent sanitation, and other basic individual and collective hygiene measures.
The outbreak of cholera immediately following cyclone Idai affected about 6,700 people, eight of whom died.