The recommendations include endorsing operational adjustments that make the vaccination process faster and adjusting the dosage based on available efficacy data.
The SAGE also suggested expanding the population eligible for vaccination with the rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, introducing an additional experimental vaccine and redoubling ongoing efforts to train nurses, doctors and medical students from Ebola-affected communities to work on vaccination teams.
“Before we can proceed to our vaccination activities, we need to get the consent of people in the area, in order to tell us that we are accepted, and also to tell us where to set up our vaccination outpost. Also when we can begin and that we respect the obligated rules,” said Dialo Fatima Tabatuli, a vaccination team leader under the WHO.
Every vaccination day requires a lot of preparation, but it is especially true for the Ebola vaccine in the DRC. Vaccination is saving lives but challenges remain.
“Yes, all field activities have their challenges, like to make people understand that the disease is real, and in order to be protected from it, you need to get the vaccine. Although we know that it is not going to be a hundred percent sure protection. That’s a lot of things to deal with, like rumors that people get about the vaccination. But before we come here, we have to give a lot of explanations, and to sensitize the people, and if they accept, because we do not force anyone, they are free to accept it and it is voluntary. And also, nobody needs to pay for it, so it’s up to them to give their consent before we do any activity on the ground,” said Tabatuli.
The investigational rVSV-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine has been administered to more than 111,000 people since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.
Despite the use of a highly efficacious vaccine, the number of new cases continues to rise, in part due to repeated incidents of violence affecting the ability of response teams to immediately identify and create vaccination rings around all people at risk of contracting Ebola.