Ebola Update: Highly Effective Ebola Vaccine Developed

by Brenda F. Johnson Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 30 years experience.

Ebola is back in the headlines again, but this time there is good news. Ebola is the deadly hemorrhagic virus that stepped foot on America’s shores from Liberia last Fall. From this horrific incident and the ripple effect it has had on healthcare, much has been learned from the outbreak. There is a new Ebola vaccine that looks promising, we will look at who developed the vaccine, what kind it is, how it’s currently being used, and what the results have been.

Ebola Update: Highly Effective Ebola Vaccine Developed

The headlines have moved onto other dramatic local and world events, but Ebola is still out there, killing. After declaring the Ebola outbreak over on May 9, 2015, Liberia buried an Ebola positive person on June 28, 2015 according to the article, "2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Case Counts" by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it is not considered an outbreak anymore, one death from Ebola is too many. Early detection is the key, and although Liberia is now considered a country with "former widespread transmission" public officials continue to keep an active watch for Ebola cases.

As of July 31, 2015, the above mentioned article stated that there are no cases of Ebola in the following countries: Nigeria, Spain, United States, Mali, Senegal, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

Who developed the Ebola Vaccine?

In The Washington Post article the, "Ebola vaccine appears to be highly effective, could be 'a game changer," the new vaccine is introduced as VSV-EBOV. The Public Health Agency of Canada developed the vaccine which is licensed through Merck. Donald Henderson, a professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and known for his work on the smallpox vaccine, also played a part in the design of the Ebola vaccine trial.

On July 31, 2015, the information was released out of Geneva that a review board of international experts, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, stated that the trial for the new vaccine should continue, calling it "highly effective." Funding for the Ebola vaccine has come from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

What kind of vaccine is VSV-EBOV?

Although the vaccine is alive, it has no live Ebola virus in it (Phillip). The vaccine replicates and is modified by replacing one gene with a single Ebola gene. This allows the body to fight the Ebola virus.

How did they conduct the study?

Beginning in March of 2015, researchers used a "ring" method to vaccinate people in Guinea. The ring method was used in the 60s and 70s to abolish smallpox and has proven to effective again. The vaccine is given to the people around the patient in a "circle of protection" (Phillip). This controlled circle helps prevent further transmission of the Ebola virus.

In Guinea's affected communities, single doses of the vaccine were administered. According to the article, "World on the verge of an effective Ebola vaccine," by the WHO, "over 4000 close contacts of almost 100 Ebola patients, including family members, neighbors, and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in the trial." Because the vaccine has been deemed safe, the continuing trials will include 13-17 year olds and possibly 6-12 year old children.

What were the results of the study so far?

Of the over 4,000 people who have received the vaccine, none of them contracted the Ebola virus, it is one hundred percent effective (Phillip). Caution is raised by the researchers, knowing that further studies are needed to prove the vaccine's effectiveness over a long period of time. They know it works short term, it's the long term results they hope will be just as good. The Guinean national regulatory authority and ethics review committee has approved the study of the Ebola vaccine to continue.

Because of the fantastic results so far, researchers have started to vaccinate all at risk people. One of the doctors from Doctors without Borders, Bertrand Draguez is quoted as saying, " For the first time ever, we received evidence of efficacy of a vaccine that will help fighting Ebola. Too many people have been dying from this extremely deadly disease, and it has been very frustrating for healthcare workers to feel so powerless against it (Phillip).

The fast and credible results that have come out of the vaccine trial proves that nations can work together for an end result. This collaborative effort has brought many organizations and has changed how the world counters a life threatening disease.


For nurses, not only is our concern for the patient, but how do we protect ourselves? There were quite a few healthcare workers who were infected with Ebola in the outbreak in the Fall of 2015. The CDC admits in their article, "Review of Human-to-Human Transmission of Ebola Virus," that healthcare workers did not have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

Some of the cases where health care workers contracted the virus over the years has been a break in protocol. In 1995 in Kiwit, Democratic Republic of Congo 25% of the cases of Ebola was health care workers. It was determined that most did not use the appropriate precautions, specifically, one nurse admitted to rubbing her eyes with soiled gloves (Review).

The most recent outbreak of Ebola has been a learning experience regarding PPE for healthcare workers. Because it has not been determined whether the virus is airborne, the CDC recommends standard, contact, and droplet precautions with no skin exposure. All healthcare workers involved with an Ebola patient are required to train in dressing and undressing proper PPE, and be observed by a manager at all times.


The most important thing a nurse can do is protect him/herself by using the applicable PPE. Take the time to make yourself safe so you can then help the patient. Don't let doctors or the clock rush you into short changing yourself and opening the opportunity for a virus or other contractible disease to bite you. The Ebola vaccine is good news for everyone, let's hope for continued good results. If you have had any direct experience with the Ebola virus, please share with us!


"Review of Human-to-Human Transmission of Ebola Virus." Center for Disease Control and Prevention." 22 July, 2015. 1 August 1, 2015. Web.

"2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Case Counts." Center for Disease Control and Prevention." 31 July, 2015. 1 August, 2015. Web.

Phillip, Abby, Larimer, Sarah, & Achenbach, Joel. "Ebola vaccine appears to be highly effective, could be a 'game-changer." The Washington Post. 31 July, 2015. 1 August, 2015. Web.

"World on the verge of an Effective Ebola vaccine." World Health Organization: news release. 1 August, 2015. Web.

Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN Specialty: 25 years of experience in Gastrointestinal Nursing

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5 Comment(s)

icuRNmaggie, BSN, RN

Specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU. Has 24 years experience. 1,970 Posts

Excellent news. Time to buy stock in Merck Pharmaceuticals.


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 45 years experience. 11 Articles; 17,507 Posts

From Philly Business Journal

[h=3]Merck: Study shows potential Ebola vaccine has '100 percent efficacy'[/h]

Merck said interim data from late-stage testing of its experimental Ebola vaccine showed it was 100 percent effective in preventing virus infection....

...Merck said to make the vaccine, the vesicular stomatitis virus was weakened by removing one of its genes, which was then replaced with a single Ebola virus gene that cannot cause disease by itself. The significance and durability of the immune response shown in the study has not been determined, Merck said.

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience. 44 Articles; 260 Posts

Excellent news. Time to buy stock in Merck Pharmaceuticals.

now if only one of these companies could keep their promise to deliver the flu vaccine on time!

Excellent article! Thanks!



Specializes in Family Medicine, Tele/Cardiac, Camp. Has 10 years experience. 468 Posts

Wonderful! I'm so happy to read this. Thank you for passing it along.



Specializes in School Nursing, Hospice,Med-Surg. Has 18 years experience. 762 Posts

"There were quite a few healthcare workers who were infected with Ebola in the outbreak in the Fall of 2015"

Please tell me this is a typo.