Oral cholera vaccination in hard-to-reach communities, Lake Chilwa, Malawi.

Authors: Grandesso F Rafael F Chipeta S Alley I Saussier C Nogareda F Burns M Lechevalier P Page AL Salumu L Pezzoli L Mwesawina M Cavailler P Mengel M Luquero FJ Cohuet S
Journal Reference: Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2018 Dec 01; 96(12); 817-825. doi: 10.2471/BLT.17.206417. Epub 2018 09 27


Objective: To evaluate vaccination coverage, identify reasons for non-vaccination and assess satisfaction with two innovative strategies for distributing second doses in an oral cholera vaccine campaign in 2016 in Lake Chilwa, Malawi, in response to a cholera outbreak.

Methods: We performed a two-stage cluster survey. The population interviewed was divided in three strata according to the second-dose vaccine distribution strategy: (i) a standard strategy in 1477 individuals (68 clusters of 5 households) on the lake shores; (ii) a simplified cold-chain strategy in 1153 individuals (59 clusters of 5 households) on islands in the lake; and (iii) an out-of-cold-chain strategy in 295 fishermen (46 clusters of 5 to 15 fishermen) in floating homes, called .

Finding: Vaccination coverage with at least one dose was 79.5% (1153/1451) on the lake shores, 99.3% (1098/1106) on the islands and 84.7% (200/236) on . Coverage with two doses was 53.0% (769/1451), 91.1% (1010/1106) and 78.8% (186/236), in the three strata, respectively. The most common reason for non-vaccination was absence from home during the campaign. Most interviewees liked the novel distribution strategies.

Conclusion: Vaccination coverage on the shores of Lake Chilwa was moderately high and the innovative distribution strategies tailored to people living on the lake provided adequate coverage, even among hard-to-reach communities. Community engagement and simplified delivery procedures were critical for success. Off-label, out-of-cold-chain administration of oral cholera vaccine should be considered as an effective strategy for achieving high coverage in hard-to-reach communities. Nevertheless, coverage and effectiveness must be monitored over the short and long term.