Cholera vaccine campaign set for Haiti

In Haiti, two medical aid groups are preparing a pilot campaign to administer a cholera vaccine to one percent of the population.

Cholera has killed approximately 6,500 Haitians and sickened almost 500,000 since the beginning of the epidemic in October 2010, according to CIDRAP News.

The vaccination drive, planned by Partners in Health, a U.S.-based nonprofit, and the Gheskio Center, a nonprofit based in Port-au-Prince, will use $870,000 in yet to be secured funding to vaccinate 100,000 vulnerable people located in the capital and in rural communities along the Artibonite River.

Some medical experts consider the plan dubious because it will reach only one percent of the population and could deplete global stocks of cholera vaccine. The vaccine to be used requires two doses given two weeks apart, and is, according to Partners in Health, 70 percent effective for close to 36 months.

"There are bigger-bang-for-the buck activities out there," Richard Garfield, a professor of public health and nursing at Columbia University, said, the Associated Press reports.

Garfield and others argue that the money would be more effective if it were used to improve water supplies and sanitation in Haiti.

The vaccination campaign, Partners in health said in a statement, is part of a "comprehensive package of prevention and treatment" efforts, CIDRAP News reports.