The African country of South Sudan has started vaccinating front-line response staff with the Ebola Zaire vaccine candidate v920.
Vaccination is one of a raft of preparedness measures South Sudan is putting into place.
South Sudan with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and worldwide health partners on Monday began vaccinating health workers and other frontline responders who are at high risk of contracting Ebola in case of an outbreak. "WHO is investing a huge amount of resources into preventing Ebola from spreading outside DRC and helping governments ramp up their readiness to respond should any country have a positive case of Ebola".
These are high-risk areas bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), now experiencing its tenth outbreak of Ebola.
WHO recently helped train 60 health workers in South Sudan to administer the yet-to-be-licensed Ebola vaccine.
Due to the regular movement of population between the Congo and South Sudan via the Western Equatoria, South Sudanese health authorities have established 17 screening point also the border between the two countries to detect any travellers infected with the Ebola virus.
The latest outbreak was declared on 1 August in the region of Beni, a major market town in North Kivu, and quickly spread to neighbouring Ituri province.
With support from the WHO and other worldwide partners, South Sudan's health ministry launched the vaccination campaign on Monday in "high-risk areas" near the southwest border, including the country's capital and largest city, Juba.
As part of these preparedness activities which are crucial to face any outbreak, South Sudan received 2 160 doses of the Ebola vaccine from Merck, the vaccine developer. Almost 1 million people have been screened to date, majority of them e from DRC.
Additionally, WHO officials have reported 733 people have been infected and 459 people have died in this Ebola outbreak. "The outbreak has also extended southwards to Kayina health zone, a high security risk area", WHO explained. What health workers do is to trace people who may have had contacted those with the disease in order to avoid spreading the disease to others. The vaccine offers protection against the Zaire strain of the virus. Rwanda also plans to vaccinate its frontline responders, according to World Health Organization statistics. Though not yet commercially licensed, the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is being provided under what is known as "compassionate use" in the ongoing outbreak after it proved effective against the Democratic Republic of the Congo's previous outbreak that lasted from May to July, according to the WHO.
"The country is not only facing Ebola but other health threats, just to name malaria, cholera, vaccine-derived polio, and also a very long humanitarian crisis and a lot of violence in several regions".