With the aim to halt the spread of polio virus, the Lagos State government with support from partners kicks off campaign this weekend to increase coverage of immunized children against vaccine preventable diseases.
The vaccination campaign is targeted at reducing the number of unimmunized children as well as improving the herd immunity of the environment against the Wild Polio Virus.
Speaking at a one day town hall meeting with health correspondents in Lagos, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Titilayo Goncalves said, the State government, with support from the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) and other agencies, is gearing up for another polio vaccination campaign in this regard from Saturday 15th to Tuesday 18th June, 2019.
Dr. Gonclaves however said, that the campaign is aimed at eliminating the polio virus found in the State, stressing that the State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is very passionate in ensuring that no child in Lagos suffers disability or die as a result of vaccine preventable diseases.
She said, the second phase of the polio vaccination campaign is in furtherance of the noble goal that all our children in Lagos State be covered by the present immunization campaign which is being done house-to- house so that the 100 percent status of polio immunization will be attained, maintained and sustained.
According to her, “we have made good progress in this bid with the cooperation and support of other agencies and development partners but we are still pursuing this goal with great determination and focus so that no single child between 0 and 59 months should remain unimmunized or unprotected from the Polio virus.”
She said, the four-day campaign which is been flagged off will begin operation between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, adding that no child should be left out.
Gonclaves stressed that the vaccination is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to catch up with the other immunizations by going to the PHCs and General hospitals in their neighborhood as It is safe, free, not dangerous and can be taken irrespective of former Immunization status, adding that, no child is safe from the vaccine preventable diseases until immunized.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Primary Health Care Board, Lagos State, Dr. Tayo Lawal, pointed out that, “the polio vaccination campaign would involve house-to-house, transit and fixed post teams. Children at homes, markets, churches, mosques, major car parks and social event venues would be specifically targeted.”
He said the vaccinator teams is comprised of 7381 trained personnel who will administer only OPV to children aged 0–59 months irrespective of their immunization status, adding that, “they will also encourage the eligible children in the houses to visit the immunization posts located within all our Primary Healthcare Centres and General hospitals for the other antigens.”
Dr. Usman Adamu, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Abuja, said data from the last polio campaign revealed that the main reasons some children were not vaccinated in Lagos state include; estates and gated communities refusing entry of immunization teams and many parents claimed not to have heard about immunization campaign.
As long as a single child remains unprotected by immunization, there is a high risk for infection to occur, says Adamu, while urging the media to create more awareness on the need for parent to ensure that their children under age five get vaccinated against polio.
He however, appealed to every parent and caregiver to ensure that all children that are five years and below receive polio vaccine when health workers come knocking between June 15th to 18th, 2019 while the children 0 month to 5 years are also taken to the health posts so designated for other vaccinations.
According to Dr. Fiona Braka, a representative of World Health Organization, said, “we are in the middle of an outbreak and we must respond to it. The outbreak response must be of high quality to interrupt the transmission of the virus.
“Nigeria has made remarkable progress in the fight against polio. We are now 32 months without a wild polio virus Nigeria.”
However, she said, this outbreak we are facing is a different strain and we therefore must respond approximately, adding that the goal is to interrupt the virus and that can only be achieveable if everyone work collectively to bring out children to get two drops of polio vaccine over the next four days.
She said, “the virus have been detected in three canals in Lagos State; Makoko, Itire and Maracana. So far this year, seven viruses have been isolated in Lagos. It is our hope and wish that why we are all here is that this outbreak will be interrupted as quickly as possible.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) Communication For Development Specialist,
Hayon Nam said, “part of the role of the media is to disseminate the correct information to the people so that they can make informed decision on this activity that can change their lives.”
She said the media is the ear, eyes and mouth of Nigeria, and the most reliable, trusted source of information.
Nam added that, “we are on the last mile to eradicating polio in Nigeria, However, with the efforts of the media getting the information to the larger population, so they can get their children vaccinated, we will eradicate polio.”