COPING WITH NATURAL DISASTERS: THE ROLE OF LOCAL HEALTH PERSONNEL AND THE COMMUNITY

( By A Working Guide (WHO - OMS, 1989) )

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Chapter 4.Vaccinations

The fact that, in general, disasters do not give rise to epidemics means that on the face of it there is no reason to improvise special vaccination campaigns after a disaster. However, the public, the authorities or the newspapers press for the launching of mass vaccinations. This is an attitude that has no valid basis in fact or experience. Indeed, experience seems to show that diverting precious energies to performing unnecessary vaccinations (for instance, against cholera or typhoid), acts to the detriment of important programmes (e.g. malaria control) and of more urgent tasks.

It is essential, therefore, to continue and strengthen the vaccinations routinely practised in the country concerned and not to launch special campaigns after a disaster. Epidemiological monitoring and objective information should reassure the people and their political leaders.

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