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40 Health Facilities to Receive Emergency Ebola Vaccines

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The vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV is the first highly effective Ebola vaccine since the first outbreak of the disease more than 40 years ago. Created by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2003, the vaccine was shown to be 100 percent effective in monkeys. But it sat on a shelf for decades because of a lack of pharmaceutical company interest until it was licensed to Merck.
The health minister, Dr.Ruth Aceng addresses journalists at Uganda Media Center

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At least 40 health facilities are set to benefit from the Ebola Vaccination Exercise that is scheduled to start on Monday, November, 5 in the five high risk districts in Uganda.

The districts include Bundibugyo, Hoima, Kasese, Kisoro, and Ntoroko. The districts are closer to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo where a total of 755 people are believed to have been affected by a recent of Ebola in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu. More than 180 deaths have been reported.

The severe illness with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent is one of the world's most virulent diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says that the 40 health facilities were chosen because they are most likely to receive an Ebola case. "On market days, around 20,000 people cross from DRC into Uganda. The facilities that were chosen to receive the highest numbers of people."

//Cue in; every week, we...

Cue out..... virus disease case."//

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Health, a team from the World Health Organisation-WHO and the Center for Disease Control. They were addressing Journalists at the Uganda Media Center today. 

Epidemiologist Dr Rosalind Carter says that a total of 2000 people are targeted in five main communities. These include, among others, workers in the chosen facilities.

//Cue in; "Its approximately 40...

Cue out...border health areas."//

The vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV is the first highly effective Ebola vaccine since the first outbreak of the disease more than 40 years ago. Created by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2003, the vaccine was shown to be 100 percent effective in monkeys. But it literally sat on a shelf until  for decades because of a lack of pharmaceutical company interest , until it was licenced by Merck.

The vaccines work by replacing a gene from a harmless livestock virus, vesicular stomatitis, with a gene encoding an Ebola virus surface protein to trick the body's immune system. According to the WHO, the incubation period for the vaccine to become effective is 10 days and is only effective for one year.

Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, WHO Country Representative says that no one will be forced to get immunized against the disease. "This vaccination exercise is optional and only those who qualify and want to get vaccinated will get the vaccine. No one will be forced." 

A total of 2,100 doses of the Ebola Zaire vaccine are currently in the country. The minister of health says they will continue to lobby for more doses. "We expected 3,000 doses but only have 2,100. We shall continue to lobby for more through WHO."

Dr Aceng emphasized that the vaccine is being used on compassionate terms and as such only the identified people in the high risk areas will be immunized. She stressed no one outside the specified areas will be vaccinated.

The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine was designed to protect against Zaire, the type of Ebola to most commonly affect humans. If the experimental vaccine works to prevent Ebola from spreading, it could mean major outbreaks involving Ebola's Zaire strain will be no more.

There are five species of Ebola, four of which have caused the disease in humans: Zaire, Sudan, Taï Forest, and Bundibugyo. The fifth, Reston, was discovered in Virginia and has infected only monkeys.

Uganda has been hit by Ebola outbreaks at least four times since the virus was first discovered.