Thousands queue in Congo for emergency yellow fever vaccinations
KINSHASA – Thousands of people in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa queued up on Wednesday for emergency yellow fever vaccinations aimed at limiting one of the worst outbreaks in decades that has killed hundreds in the region this year.
Makeshift clinics in churches and schools opened across the densely populated city of over 10 million and in other areas bordering Angola, part of a World Health Organization-led (WHO)campaign against an epidemic that has mostly affected Angola.
Health officials expect to vaccinate 14 million people over the next 10 days, including 8.5 million in Kinshasa, where there are fears of a far wider spread. That adds to the 13 million in Angola and 3 million in Congo already vaccinated this year.
Those queuing will receive a one-fifth dose of the vaccine in order to eke out limited global supplies. The lower dose protects for 12 months but does not give lifelong immunity.
“People are coming in large numbers to get vaccinated. There is a lot of enthusiasm,” said Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Congo. He acknowledged the challenges of such a vast vaccination drive, including keeping vaccinations cold in areas without electricity.
“We are in an urban milieu where more than 7 million people await their vaccine,” he said.
At a school in the Kinshasa district of Lingwala, a few dozen people, mostly children, had waited for over three hours before their vaccinations arrived.
At other locations in the city, things ran more smoothly.
Close to 100 people lined up at a vaccination site outside a church in the Gombe district. Tables were set up with cold boxes for the vaccine and yellow medical boxes for waste disposal.
Joel Lina, 32, came for a vaccination at the Gombe church after hearing about the impact of yellow fever in Angola.
“It’s a very evil disease,” he said after his injection. “That hurt for a little while, but now it’s getting better.” –Reuters