Cholera Vaccination in Iraq

Cholera Vaccination in IraqCholera Vaccination in Iraq

The WHO has mobilized 510,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to help control cholera outbreak among high-risk groups in Iraq. 

Iraq declared an outbreak of cholera on September 15. The current number of laboratory confirmed cases is 2055. As an integrated part of the current outbreak response strategy oral cholera vaccines (OCV) have been mobilized through the international coordination group based in Geneva. Based on a public health risk assessment, it has been determined that a number of displacement camps housing Syrian refugees and internally displaced Iraqis are at high risk for further spread of cholera.    

In addition to current prevention and control measures, the World Health Organization is working with Iraq’s Ministry of Health to provide OCV in an immunization campaign for vulnerable populations in 62 refugee camps for internally displaced persons and collective centers throughout the country, targeting approximately 249,319 people. This is the first time Iraq will introduce the OCV Shanchol vaccine, the WHO website reported.  

The campaign begins with an initial round of vaccination followed by – after a required, minimum 14 days interval – a second round, which will complete the vaccination. For the campaign to be effective, it is vital that a second dose is administered. The first round took place on October 31.

Targeted social mobilization, campaign logistics and health education are key components to ensure the successful implementation of OCV. In order to achieve herd immunity, all members of a family above one year of age must be vaccinated.

Additional staff from WHO and health cluster partners have been deployed to Iraq to support the measures and facilitate the logistics to ensure as many people as possible are protected.

The provision of safe water, sanitation and personal hygiene will continue to be the critical cholera prevention and control measures. Cholera vaccination is a safe and effective additional tool that can be used under the right conditions to supplement existing priority cholera control measures.