Current Weather
The Spy FM

CDC Chief: New Vaccines In Haiti Will Save Tens Of Thousands

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
April 17, 2012

A campaign to introduce new childhood vaccines to Haiti will save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade, Dr. Thomas Frieden told Shots at the end of a two-day tour of the beleaguered country.

“This is an enormous step forward for Haiti,” says Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is a big deal.”

The crash campaign will start this weekend. Just 3 of the 10 vaccines being deployed in the next two years “will prevent 20,000 to 50,000 deaths among children in Haiti over the next decade,” Frieden said before boarding a plane home.

Those three protect against Haemophilus influenzae B (Hib), rotavirus and pneumococcal pneumonia.

The last two will be rolled out in the next two years. The drive beginning this week will protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Hib (in a 5-in-1 shot), along with polio and rubella.

In addition to these, Haiti is launching a “catch-up campaign” to vaccinate children against measles.

“That’s quite important,” Frieden says. On Thursday, the CDC will issue a report on measles outbreaks in the U.S. caused by travelers to Europe and other countries where measles is resurgent because of flagging immunization.

“It’s quite common. The risk of measles being imported into Haiti is quite large,” Frieden warns. “It’s not there now, but if it were to get in, it could kill 20,000 kids in less than a year.”

Frieden was part of a delegation to Haiti that included his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It was her first trip to Haiti.

The U.S. officials spent two days touring health facilities and holding press conferences that included Haitian President Michel Martelly and the country’s health minister, Dr. Florence Duperval Guillaume. (Shortly after the press conference, Martelly suffered chest pains and flew to Miami for treatment of a pulmonary embolism.)

When the U.S. delegation arrived, a different vaccination campaign had just gotten started — a pilot project to immunize against cholera, which was introduced into Haiti 18 months ago.

Frieden has been decidedly skeptical about deploying a cholera vaccine in Haiti. He’d earlier pointed out that such a vaccine had never been used in an ongoing cholera epidemic, and that the global supply of cholera vaccine was limited.

The CDC has put the emphasis on cleaning up Haiti’s water supply and providing decent sanitation as the best ways to combat cholera.

That’s still the case, but this week Sebelius and Frieden were more open about the potential role of cholera vaccine.

On Monday, Sebelius said cholera vaccination and clean water sanitation was “not either/or,” according to HHS spokesman Keith Maley.

“I don’t think it’s really a question of disagreement, but what makes the most sense to save the most lives … how to get the job done,” Frieden told Shots. “There is zero disagreement [about] the need to strengthen water and sanitation systems throughout Haiti. … In addition, we should look carefully at the current and potential future role for cholera vaccine.”

Frieden says it will take time to improve water and sanitation. “Nothing is easy in Haiti, I think that’s safe to say,” he says. “But we’re optimistic. We’ve seen significant improvements in the past year.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center