A hundred thousand people in Haiti are ready and waiting to get vaccinated against cholera.
The vaccine is sitting in coolers. Vaccination teams are all trained. Willing recipients are registered and entered into databases.
The impending mass vaccination project aims to show that vaccinating against cholera is feasible in Haiti. It has never been done in the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic. So far, more than 530,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and more than 7,000 have died.
The vaccine — $417,000 worth of it — is stacked high in refrigerated containers to protect it from the Haitian heat.
Hundreds of health workers are trained and ready to give the vaccine. They're armed with programmed smartphones and tablet computers to keep track of who has been vaccinated and who needs a second dose.
And 100,000 eager Haitians, from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince to tiny hamlets in Haiti's rice bowl, have signed up to get the vaccine.
The cholera outbreak in Haiti is currently the worst ongoing episode in the world.
Over the past 15 months, it has sickened more than half a million people and killed roughly 7,000. The bacteria has now spread throughout the Caribbean island, and medical experts say it will be around for years to come.
Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit, is planning to launch an unprecedented cholera vaccination campaign to try to curb the outbreak — but it faces many challenges, including a shortage of the vaccine.
Even before the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti's public health care system was perhaps the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Then the quake knocked down clinics, killed medical workers and severely damaged the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Now, the Boston-based group Partners in Health has set out to build a world-class teaching hospital in what used to be a rice field in the Haitian countryside.
On Jan. 12, for the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake, thousands of people flocked to the Shalom Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The "church" is just a plywood stage under a patchwork of tattered tarps.
The crowd was so large that it spilled down a muddy hill toward a tent camp for earthquake victims. Most of the singing, swaying congregation were so far away they couldn't even see the podium.
The evangelical mission now claims to have more than 50,000 members and one of the most popular radio stations in Haiti.