Haiti begins vaccinating for cholera

April 13, 2012 at 7:13 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, April 13 (UPI) -- More than a year after a cholera epidemic broke out in Haiti, health organizations began vaccinating Haitians for the disease.

Partners in Health and Gheskio began the campaign to vaccinate 1 percent of Haiti's population Thursday by giving the first of two doses of the vaccine to poor Haitians in Port-au-Prince, The New York Times reported.

Residents of a rice-growing community near St. Marc will begin this weekend. Both communities will receive the second dose in two weeks.

More than 530,000 Haitians have been infected with the waterborne disease since it first struck a year and a half ago, with more than 7,000 people dying from it.

The health organizations had intended to start the campaign before spring rains spread the disease through the country, but hit a roadblock when a Haitian radio station questioned the vaccination campaign, which was approved by the Haitian health minister last year.

The radio station asked if the initiative was just an excuse to experiment on poor Haitians, prompting the country's bioethics committee to take up the issue.

However, Dr. Gabriel Timothee, director general of the Haitian Health Ministry, said this week when the campaign was approved by the bioethics committee, "This is not a study, it is not a vaccine trial, it is not an experiment."

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