Vaccine shortage might soon spread yellow fever epidemic abroad

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According to the organization, about 7 million doses of the vaccine are available.

Save the Children, an international charity, warns that an epidemic of yellow fever in southern and central Africa could soon spread worldwide, partly because of a shortage in yellow fever vaccines.

10 Million people are at risk

Save the Children has issued the warning a day before a massive campaign to vaccinate people in the Democratic Republic of Congo where about 10 million people are at risk of being infected with yellow fever.

According to the organization, about 7 million doses of the vaccine are available. They add, “too few to even fully cover Kinshasa, let alone the whole of the D.R.C.”

yellow fever

Photo from: wikimedia commons

In order to make up for the shortage, the vaccine has to be diluted to treat five people instead of just one. This measure severely reduces the effectivity of the vaccine from a lifetime immunity down to just one year.

According to Heather Kerr, Save the Children’s director for the Democratic Republic of Congo, “We’ve got to urgently reach as many children and families as we can with the supplies that are left, and this is the only way we are able to do that right now. We can only hope this will be enough to stop the epidemic from spreading any further.”

The virus also has the potential to spread abroad since the virus gets transmitted when a mosquito that has bitten an infected person bites someone without the virus. This is why it’s very important for people to get vaccinated against the virus as it not only prevents them from being infected, it also stops the virus from spreading further.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a type of virus that gets spread by the same mosquito that carries the Zika virus. Thankfully, Yellow fever isn’t highly contagious and a vaccine was developed years back.

The problem mainly stems from the fact that only a few companies manufacture the vaccine, and the most recent epidemic means that the number of people infected by yellow fever severely outnumber the vaccines that are currently in supply. Additionally, the Associated Press has reported that a million doses of the vaccine being shipped to Angola disappeared back in February.

Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, muscle pain, and in worse cases, jaundice, internal bleeding, and even death. According to the WHO, people who develop the more severe symptoms of yellow fever can have up to a 50% mortality rate

How can I protect my family?

People can get infected by yellow fever if they get bitten by a mosquito that is a carrier for the virus. This means that in order to keep you and your family safe from yellow fever, as well as mosquito borne diseases, you need to ensure that you and your family are protected from mosquitos.

Here are a few steps that you can take:

  • Use insect repellent sprays or lotions
  • Clean the areas surrounding your house and dispose of any standing water that mosquitos might use as breeding grounds
  • When traveling to tropical areas or rural provinces, make sure to wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from bites
  • You can also use mosquito nets at night to protect you from bites
  • If you think that you or a loved one might be infected, make sure to go to a doctor immediately

Hopefully these tips can help keep you and your family safe from mosquito-borne diseases.

READ: An increase in a mysterious paralyzing illness has been reported among children


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