Report: Haiti Rejected Thousands of Cholera Vaccine Doses Last Year

The vaccinations would have curbed the nation’s cholera outbreak, a Dutch vaccine maker said.

Posted: 07/12/2011 05:24 PM EDT
Filed Under Haiti

Did Haiti’s refusal of tens of thousands of cholera vaccine doses last year lead to a spread of the epidemic?


That’s what the CEO of Dutch vaccine maker Crucell believes, according to a Financial Times report. Ronald Brus said his company offered donations of its Dukoral cholera vaccine but health officials in the nation rejected it.


To date, more 5,500 people have died and over 350,000 people have been sickened since the water-borne illness struck the nation last fall. With a significant number of Haitians made homeless by the earthquake, living in camps in at times unsanitary conditions, the illness was able to spread.


While unaware of Crucell’s offer, Peter Graaf, who currently serves as Haiti’s representative in the World Health Organization, said that the decision to reject the offer was made by the health ministry at the time, the paper reports.


He also questioned whether the vaccine distribution would have even been effective. This particular vaccine calls for two doses over the period of a week. In general WHO and other charities are against vaccine donations because, they say, they aren’t sustainable, the paper reports.


There is also the problem of the public outrage that could ensue if only a few Haitians are able to be vaccinated, according to Jon Weigel from the organization Partners in Health, Financial Times reports.


The paper, though, points to studies that say a single vaccination of five percent of Haitians would cut the number of cholera cases by 11 percent.

(Photo: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)