Uganda begins Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

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A World Health Organization assessment of the situation in DRC released on 22 October, warned of the potential for the virus to spread into Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi, as well as Uganda, and called on these countries to step up readiness efforts.

"I do think this is one of the challenges we'll have to see, whether we're able to contain, control and end the current outbreak with the current security situation, or do we move into the idea that this becomes more of an endemic Ebola outbreak in this region, which we've never really confronted", Dr. Redfield told The Washington Post.

Uganda has started vaccinating health workers against Ebola in a border district near the outbreak in Congo, where the highly infectious viral disease has killed 189 people.

It is the first time the vaccine has been offered before an Ebola outbreak even starts.

Health workers are usually among the first to be infected in an Ebola outbreak.

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This particular vaccine is now being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type. The vaccine was given to more than 16,000 volunteers in Africa, Europe and the United States in 2015, and was found to be effective against the Ebola virus.

The vaccine is, therefore, being used on a compassionate basis, to protect persons at highest risk of the Ebola outbreak, under a "ring vaccination" strategy, which is similar to the approach used to eradicate smallpox. "Scientists believe such invaluable lives would have been saved had a vaccine been in existence then".

Uganda shares a border with Congo, and both nations experience a robust movement of people between them as a result of trade and the region's high population.

Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that the administration of the Ebola vaccine to frontline healthcare workers has been the missing link in the country's EVD preparation and readiness efforts. He assured them about its potency and ability to protect them effectively.

In December 2000, Lukwiya, a medical superintendent of Lacor Hospital in the northern district of Gulu, died along with 12 nurses after contracting the highly contagious disease, which is transmitted through contact with body fluids. Risk communication, community engagement and cross-border surveillance are also going on in many districts.