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U.S. Delegation Expresses Support For Two Vaccination Campaigns While In Haiti

“A campaign to introduce new childhood vaccines to Haiti will save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade, [CDC Director] Dr. Thomas Frieden told [NPR's health blog 'Shots'] at the end of a two-day tour of the beleaguered country,” the blog reports. “Frieden was part of a delegation to Haiti that included his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,” according to the blog, which notes, “When the U.S. delegation arrived, a different vaccination campaign had just gotten started — a pilot project to immunize against cholera” (Knox, 4/17). According to another article in “Shots,” “U.S. health officials have been cool to that pilot project behind the scenes,” but Sebelius expressed support for the project.

Haitian authorities “say U.S. officials have viewed the cholera vaccination pilot project as a distraction, and have urged Haitians to focus instead on cleaning up their water supply, providing decent sanitation, urging people to wash their hands faithfully, and treating cholera,” the blog writes (Knox, 4/17). “On Monday, Sebelius said cholera vaccination and clean water sanitation was ‘not either/or,’ according to HHS spokesman Keith Maley,” the blog notes. “‘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 said, according to the blog (4/17).