Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) What You Need To Know

13 Feb, 2024 - 09:02 0 Views
Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) What You Need To Know Dr Linda Haj Omar

eBusiness Weekly


Cholera is a severe diarrheal disease caused by the bacteria called Vibrio Cholerae that commonly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water and food (oral-faecal transmission).

Cholera leads to severe watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration. Also, it can lead to rapid fluid loss, electrolyte imbalance, and in severe cases, even death if left untreated.

Cholera is considered as a potentially life-threatening disease and a major public health concern in many parts of the world, particularly in areas with poor sanitation and inadequate access to clean water.

Therefore, it’s important to apply multi-sectoral interventions and cholera related public health measures such as Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV), particularly in areas where cholera is endemic or during outbreaks or in vulnerable populations (e.g. refugees) and high-risk areas.

Vaccination with OCV is one of the key interventions in addressing cholera transmission in many countries affected with cholera. The vaccine (OCV) serves as a primary stop gap measure that allows for countries to work on other long-term interventions during the period of immunity that is offered to vaccinated risk populations.

Nevertheless, using the vaccine in conjunction with other measures such as Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), safe drinking water, and good hygiene practices, will contribute to the reduction of cholera-related morbidity and mortality, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of communities affected by the disease.

What is Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV)

Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) is a type of vaccine used to prevent and/ or control cholera infection. The oral cholera vaccine consists of live attenuated (weakened) strains of Vibrio cholerae that provide immunity against cholera. There are two types of vaccine Shanchol™ and Euvichol-Plus®, which are killed modified whole-cell bivalent (O1 and O139) vaccines. Both vaccines have the same formulation, safe, and well-tolerated and have been recommended and approved by World Health Organization (WHO) and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization.

Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) Administration and Doses 

OCV is administered orally, usually in the form of a liquid plastic ampule (1ml). This makes the vaccine easier to deliver, especially in resource-limited settings, and allows for wider coverage during vaccination campaigns. The vaccine is given either in two doses regimen or one dose regimen depending on the vaccine availability within the global factories. When using two doses regimen, countries should make sure to apply 2 weeks as interval period between the doses.

Immunity and Who Should be Vaccinated

According to the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), when administer 2 doses will give immunity for 3 years, while one dose administration will give immunity for (6 months – 1 year) against the disease, which still has important implications for outbreak management. All OCV types provide sustained protection of greater than 60% – 70% for at least 2 years in endemic populations. Therefore, it should be used in conjunction with other preventive and control measures. All countries with cholera related risk or outbreak or endemicity, are eligible for OCV application. OCV is targeted for all population (males and females), starting from 1 year old and above.

Importance of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) in Cholera Prevention and Control

The cholera oral vaccine plays a crucial role in controlling and preventing the spread of cholera, especially in areas prone to outbreaks. Some of the key importance of the cholera oral vaccine includes:

Prevention of epidemics: OCV can be used as a preventive measure in areas at high risk of cholera outbreaks, helping to prevent widespread to protect vulnerable populations from the disease and epidemics. This also includes vaccination of the healthcare workers, medical personnel, laboratory personnel and emergency responders who may come into contact with cholera patients or work in areas with cholera protect them from getting infected and reduces the risk of transmission to others.

Cost-effectiveness: Vaccination campaigns can be a cost-effective strategy for preventing cholera outbreaks, particularly in resource-constrained settings where access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure is limited.

Public health impact: By reducing the burden of cholera, the OCV can have a significant impact on public health, improving overall population well-being and reducing the economic and social costs associated with the disease. OCV can be used as part of a comprehensive response strategy to limit the spread of the disease during outbreaks. Besides, by implementing pre-emptive vaccination campaigns, the risk of future outbreaks can be reduced, potentially saving lives and healthcare resources.

Herd immunity: Widespread vaccination can contribute to the development of herd immunity, reducing the overall transmission of the cholera bacterium within a community. This helps protect vulnerable individuals who may not be able to receive the vaccine, such as young children or immunocompromised individuals.

Travelers: Cholera oral vaccines are recommended for travelers visiting areas with a known risk of cholera transmission. This is especially important for individuals traveling to regions with inadequate sanitation and water treatment systems.

In align with above, Zimbabwe received 2.4 million vaccine doses from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be deployed to the cholera affected districts, to conduct a reactive campaign to the cholera outbreak that affecting the country currently.

Communication with the public during a cholera outbreak is critical not only for the rapid control of the outbreak, but also to keep the public informed and reduce the risk of social, political and economic turbulence. Therefore, as Medlico Research and Training Institute, would like to join our efforts with the governmental, UN and private institutes and organizations to increase the community awareness on how to prevent cholera spread, personal hygiene practices and importance of the oral cholera vaccine.

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