The Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) is urging health workers at three health centers dealing with the present Ebola outbreak to come and take the vaccine in order to have themselves protected against the Ebola virus disease.
The medical group said it has secured at least 1,700 doses of the vaccine for health workers who are working at Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA 2) Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU), Duport Road Health Center and the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
These health centers are the ones that are presently dealing with this new outbreak in the country, according to the authorities at PREVAIL.
The 14 family members of the Gbotees, two of whom are confirmed positive with the virus, are now quarantined at ELWA 2. The Gbotees’ 10-year-old son, Nathan, who died on Monday, was diagnosed with the virus at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center on Thursday, November 19, while some family members of the Gbotees, who reportedly had direct contact with their sick relatives, took treatment at the Duport Road Health Center.
PREVAIL’s call is against the backdrop that health workers are on the frontline battling the deadly disease and that they need to be safe and protected before they can help to save the lives of anyone who might come down with the virus.
Presently, according to Dr. Francis Kateh, Deputy Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer, 25 health workers who reportedly had contact with this current outbreak, are under surveillance. Among the 25 are 10 who are described as “high risk,” owing to the level of exposure they had with the sick patients, the Deputy Health Minister said.
At the height of the epidemic when Liberians and others were dying, over 180 Liberian health workers who tried to help save the lives of their patients, contracted the virus and succumbed to it. As a result, many other health workers abandoned health facilities for fear of their lives.
To show that the vaccine that is now being administered at the PREVAIL head office at JFK in the trial study are safe for humans, four medical doctors and two health workers on Wednesday, November 25, volunteered and took the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Ebola Virus vaccine.
The vaccine, also known as VSV-EBOV, is an experimental vaccine for protecting against the Ebola virus disease. It was developed by scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada.
Dr. Fatorma Bolay, Director, Liberia Institute of Biomedical Research and Co-principal Investigator of the PREVAIL Vaccine Study; Dr. Billy C. Johnson, Chief Medical Officer, JFK Medical Center; Dr. Elizabeth Higgs, Global Health Advisor, NIH; Dr. Mark Kieh, Site Physician, PREVAIL Vaccine Study; Mr. Lawrence Fakoli, Research Associate, LIBR and Mr. Moses Badio, Biostatistician, PREVAIL, took the trial vaccine yesterday.
They called on all health workers to take the vaccine. They said no health worker should die again as a result of the virus as the vaccine is effective in protecting them.