Vaccines and the fight against Ebola

VACCINES AND THE FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA

In March 2014, West Africa experienced the largest outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in history.

The outbreak  began in Guinea and then spread very quickly through Liberia and Sierra Leone, with cases also reported in Senegal, Nigeria, and the D.R.C.

In June 2016, when the outbreak was officially over, more than 28,000 people had been infected and over 11,000 had died.

In May 2018, Ebola reappeared in DRC. There have been over 1000 cases so far, and the outbreak is still ongoing.

Defeating Ebola needs the help of the local community and the use of vaccinations.

HOW CAN THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES HELP?

Local knowledge and information is crucial in the fight to control the disease and reduce infection.

Local community members are needed to:

·     Find out who has been in contact with someone who has been infected

·     See and report symptoms as soon as possible

·     Make sure safety measures are introduced quickly to prevent spread

You can read more about what Ebola is, and how you can help stop it, here: https://rightforeducation.org/2016/04/ebola-virus-what-it-means/

HOW CAN VACCINES HELP?

A vaccine is when you use a weak form of a disease to protect someone who is not infected. You can read more about how vaccines work here: https://rightforeducation.org/2016/04/vaccination-the-science-behind-it/

There is a vaccine for Ebola.  It is currently only being given to people who are at the highest risk of catching the disease. This includes:

People who have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola
People who have been in contact with someone who might be infected with Ebola
All health care workers and other workers who might come into contact with Ebola patients
This is called a ‘ring vaccination’ strategy. The vaccine is used to create a ‘ring’ of people who are immune to Ebola around a patient who has Ebola, to stop the disease spreading.

WHY IS THE VACCINE NOT BEING GIVEN TO EVERYBODY?

This is correct.

The Ebola vaccine is new and has not been fully tested. The information we have so far shows that the vaccine is both safe, and protects against the Ebola virus.

However, because the vaccine has not been fully tested, it is only being given to people who are at the highest risk of catching Ebola. Because Ebola is so deadly – it kills more than half of the people who are infected – it would not be fair to withhold the vaccine from these people.

Right now in DRC, 90,000 people have been given the vaccine. Only 71 later caught Ebola.  Scientists think that the vaccine prevents 97.5% of cases.

Progress is being made everyday.

SELIN MILWARD

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