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Vaccination Must Be Part Of Response To Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

Though “[c]holera vaccines are not a magic bullet and are not available in adequate numbers” to vaccinate everyone in Haiti, where at least 10 people die each day in an outbreak that began in October 2010, “there are compelling reasons to add vaccinations to the arsenal of public health weapons that has been deployed against cholera in Haiti,” a Washington Post editorial states. Efforts to improve access to clean water, educate the public about cholera transmission and treat those infected are ongoing, “[b]ut those efforts should be supplemented with an ambitious vaccination program starting as soon as practicable,” the editorial writes.

The cost of vaccinating every person in Haiti would cost about $20 million, according to the editorial, which notes a “recent study showed that if only five percent of the population in the most vulnerable areas were vaccinated, it would cut the number of cholera cases by 11 percent, and if 30 percent of Haitians got the vaccine, it would reduce infections by 55 percent and save 3,320 lives.” The editorial concludes, “Surely that would be a worthwhile return on a very modest investment” (9/22).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.