CHOLERA vaccination began at the Pacific International Hospital (PIH) last week, with nearly 20 individuals from organisations dealing with bulk food handling getting immunised.
PIH vice-chairman Dr Mathias Sapuri said yesterday the oral inactivated vaccine, Dukoral, was available at the hospital for children aged two to six years and seven years to adults, which effectively protected the body against the bacteria for up to 18 months.
Dr Sapuri said this was the hospital’s response to the public private partnership in public health care under the Government’s health reforms and he called on all health facilities in the country to follow suit.
“This vaccine was not just introduced recently to PIH but we’ve had this vaccine here for years now, even before the cholera outbreak in PNG.
“Frequent Papua New Guinean travellers to Asia and Africa had been taking the dose and continue to do so to guard against cholera, which is common in these regions,” Dr Sapuri said.
He urged health workers, workers in the food industry and others working in environments where they were constantly exposed to the public to get the vaccination available at a cost of K10 per full dose.
The vaccine helped build up intestinal lining and creating antibodies to guard against the cholera bacteria.
From information released by PIH, the vaccine, however, is not the only measure in the prevention of cholera outbreaks, and clean and hygienic practices are still highly recommended.
While the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers, it was not immediately recommended to be taken by those with acute illnesses and conditions such as those with advanced HIV.
Basic immunisation comprises two doses for adults and children over the age of six.
Children two to six years should receive three doses which are to be administered at one week intervals.
Satisfactory protection against cholera can be expected about two weeks after completing the basic immunisation course.
Dukoral is supplied as granules dissolved in 150ml of water as a full dose.