In order to curb child mortality resulting from measles infection, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (LSPHCB), Dr. Iyabo Are, has said that the state targets to reach 3.6 million children for vaccination.
Speaking to journalists at an event organised by LSPHCB with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Are said eligible children for the vaccination are from nine months to five years and the process is divided into two phases, adding that the first phase is from March 15 to 22, while the second phase starts from March 22 to 29, 2018.
She added that 50 percent of the measles cases in the world are found in six countries and Nigeria has the highest burden, revealing that measles is highly contagious, spreads quickly from an infected person to another and it is almost endemic in Nigeria as too many unvaccinated children are lurking around in the community.
She said that measles is a killer and its common complications includes: diarrhoea, ear infections, brain infection, pneumonia, blindness and even death, stressing that the way to eradicate all complications is to attain 95 percent immunization in the State.
According to her, “some of the challenges why Lagos have not been able to attain 95 percent is getting across to riverine areas, hard- to- reach areas and also some groups who are resistant to vaccination. We need to penetrate those areas so that the scourge of measles can be removed from the State.
“We have organised few meetings at all the places where there are resistance like; some churches, mosque, estates, schools, e.t.c. we also collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Home Affairs to enable us achieve this course.”
The UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr Charles Nwosisi said the measles campaign vaccination is a ‘Catch up campaign’ as Lagos State target to reach every child that might have missed vaccination over the last few years especially those who didn’t have access to measles vaccine.
He said, “for some years now, Lagos State have not had optimal coverage. Every year, we miss a pool of children. We hope to reach all of them. This is also an opportunity for every eligible child to get an additional dose of the measles vaccine irrespective of previous vaccination history. The vaccination is free, safe and effective.
“There are symptoms of measles to look out for like; high fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, loss of appetite and rashes all over the face and body.”
Nwosisi stated that “the type of vaccination to be given is injectable and it will be at the child’s upper right arm. There are hardly side effects but if any, the parent should take the child to the nearest health centre. All children should complete their immunization for BCG, OPV, Hep B, Pentavalent, PCV, IPV, measles and yellow fever. Parent should also keep their children’s immunization card safe for future use.”
He emphasised that the vaccination will not be given door- to- door, rather it will be available at primary health centres, general hospitals within the community, churches, mosques, market places, palace and some private hospitals as he encouraged parents and caregivers to vaccinate their children who are eligible against measles.