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Congo aims to vaccinate 11.6 million against yellow fever

After DRC declared a yellow fever epidemic in Kinshasa on June 20, 2016, Health Minister Felix Kabange has declared that 11.6 million people in the country will be vaccniated against the disease.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Jun 28, 2016, 02:22 PM IST

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A campaign to vaccinate 11.6 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo against yellow fever will start on July 20, the health minister said on Monday.

Health Minister Felix Kabange said the aim was to cover everyone in the capital Kinshasa and the provinces of Kwango, Lualaba and Kasai, except children under 9 months and it would take 10 days.

The mosquito-borne haemorrhagic virus is a major concern in Kinshasa, a city of about 12 million people with poor health services, a humid climate and much stagnant water. Kabange did not explain how the authorities would obtain enough vaccines to complete it, however. There are currently around 6 million left in the world (they take a year to make) and the WHO has recommended using a fifth of the standard dose, an amount that protects temporarily but does not confer lifelong immunity.

Eugene Kabambi, spokesman for the World Health Organisation (WHO)  in Congo, said there were currently 1.3 million doses of the vaccine in country. "It is probable we will divide up the vaccine," he said. "The decision will be announced. We need to look at how many people are being vaccinated and the availability of vaccine."

The worst yellow fever outbreak in decades has killed about 345 people in Angola, while Congo declared an epidemic in Kinshasa and two other provinces on June 20, 2016 after reporting 67 confirmed cases and more than 1,000 other suspected cases.

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