In response to a polio outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), comprehensive vaccinations targeted at all ages began on Friday, November 12, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.
This is the first vaccination response since the outbreak was confirmed on November 4. An accounting was taken on November 9, with 226 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) with a relatively high mortality of 97 deaths reported. Four of the AFP cases have been confirmed as polio. This is an unusual outbreak in that most of the AFP cases reported have been among young adults between the ages of 15 and 29.
“Every man, every woman, every child will be immunized irrespective of their past immunization status,” said Luis Sambo, M.D., WHO regional director for Africa. “This way we can be assured that everybody is reached, including young adults, whose immunity may be low.” The first case was reported in a Pointe Noire hospital on October 1.
WHO and its partners Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF have secured USD $4.8 million, and 1.7 million doses of oral polio vaccines (OPV). A multidisciplinary team of experts have assembled to support investigation of the outbreak, field activities, and operational costs.
An additional 5 million doses of OPV were slated to arrive in the DRC from Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 12.