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Vaccinating 46% Of Haiti’s Population Could Control Cholera Epidemic, Study Concludes

“Vaccinating fewer than half of Haiti’s population of 10 million should brake a cholera epidemic that has claimed nearly 8,000 lives and made more than 635,000 people ill, scientists said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Using a mathematical model, scientists in the United States determined that vaccination coverage of 46 percent of the population would ‘suppress transmission,'” the news agency writes (1/10). “In the current debate on the use of cholera vaccines … our results suggest that moderate cholera vaccine coverage would be an important element of disease control in Haiti,” the research team wrote in the journal Scientific Reports (Mukandavire et al., 1/10). Study author J. Glenn Morris, director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, “points to the ‘herd immunity’ concept — which proposes that immunizing a significant portion of a population breaks a chain of infection — in support of the efficacy of less than universal vaccination,” according to a University of Florida press release (1/10).

“The recently developed mathematical model might serve to settle or, at least, voice a compromise in an international debate over whether Haiti should vaccinate its population or clean up its sanitation systems to stave off the epidemic,” the Gainesville Sun reports (Crane, 1/10). According to AFP, the researchers said “vaccination must be combined with programs to improve water quality.” The news agency adds, “Talks between the Haitian health ministry, the WHO and Pan-American Health Organization on launching a vaccination campaign ‘are taking place, but nothing has been agreed yet,’ the WHO said in response to an email query from AFP” (1/10). In a related story, the U.N. released preliminary results from the Haiti Demographic and Health Survey, which show “substantial progress for children there in the education, nutrition, health, and sanitation sectors since 2006,” according to the U.N. News Centre (1/10).