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Lagos begins measles vaccination March 15

  • Targets 95% coverage   

Journalists at the orientation meeting.

The Lagos State Government has announced  plans to commence measles vaccination in the state from March 15.

Speaking at a one-day media orientation meeting for journalist on Monday, the  Director, Health Education, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Mrs Modupe Owojuyigbe, said the campaign which will be in two phases would commence on March 15-22 while the second phase starts from 22 -29.

She said the state is set to achieve 95% success, as no fewer than 3.6 million children are being  targeted for the vaccination.

Speaking further, she noted that measles affects mostly children and it is also one of the leading causes of death among young children. She said the added that the disease spreads very quickly from child to child – especially from infected children to healthy and well-nourished children.

However, Immunization Specialist with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Charles Nwosisi, in his presentation stated that, Nigeria is number one country with the least measles immunization coverage with Measles Vaccine 1st dose (MCV 1) at 3 .3 Million unvaccinated children, compared to India with 2.9m.  According to him, Measles Vaccination Coverage in 2016 was 51% with the country ranking 192 out of 200 countries in terms of global ranking for measles coverage.

He also noted that Nigeria had conducted several measles vaccination campaigns to help reach the children that could not be reached with the routine immunization system (second opportunity); these campaigns have not met the coverage target (95%). Nwosisi also said that in the 2015 campaign, the national average was 84.5% which was not good enough to reduce the burden of the disease. So measles cases – incidence and out breaks continued till date.

Expressing optimism, Permanent Sectary, Primary Healthcare Lagos State, Iyabo Are, said, “We still have many unvaccinated children and this makes measles continue to be in the society. As you know measles is a killer because it causes all sorts of complications and the way to do this is to attain 95% immunization and we haven’t been able to get that.

“There are always hard to reach areas that we haven’t been able to conquers and these are usually children in the off shore places. Those places are very difficult to take health to; we need to penetrate all these places to attain that 95% so that the scourge of measles can be removed from our society.

“We’ve organized meetings with schools, churches and a few estates that resist immunization. So we have organized meetings to penetrate all these places,” she assured.

Noting the consequences of measles on children Mrs. Owojuyigbe said, “Measles can also cause diarrhoea, ear infections, brain infection, pneumonia, blindness and even death.

“The symptoms include: High fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, loss of appetite, rashes all over the face and body.”

Recounting why some major setbacks to achieving a desired result in the time past, she noted that some caregivers claim ignorance of vaccination, while some were too busy to go to vaccination posts as some did not know about the place and/or time of immunization.

However to surmount the above challenges, Mr. Nwosisi, stated that at all levels, coordination for a successful Measles campaign has been Strengthen with a National, State and LGA level Measle technical coordination group made up of all Government agencies (MoH, PHCB and other line ministries) and its partners (UNICEF, WHO and other NGOs).

“In Lagos State, SMTCC is Responsible for quality campaign in all LGAs within the state. The team is chaired by the Perm Sec of PHCB with direct supervision of Commissioner of health and SA to the Governor on PHC and this Structure is replicated at LGA level.”

“Newer things in this campaign include: Use of house to house mobilizers, increasing the number of vaccination days to 6, States to provide counterpart funding for additional teams and an extra day for mop up, plans for some special teams for special pop, accountability framework with sanctions and rewards, real time monitoring to trigger responses when necessary and intensified engagement of all stakeholders (Media and Community),” Nwosis explained.

Mrs. Owojuyigbe however advised that the best protection against measles is to be vaccinated against the diseases and completing routine immunization.

The vaccination is for all children from ages nine months to five years and can be done in all government health facilities and vaccination posts for free.

“Serious side effects are very rare. But if your child experiences any, please take the child immediately to the nearest health centre to you.

“All children under one year should complete their immunization for BCG, OPV, Hep B, Pentavalent, PCV, IPV, Measles, and Yellow Fever in a health facility,” she said, adding that caregivers must keep their children’s vaccination cards safe, that they will be needed in future.

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