Jalingo, Nigeria – The National Primary Health Care and Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, and partners are working to boost population immunity against measles, meningitis, and yellow fever in 13 high-risk states.
Along this line, the Taraba State Government, on 17 November 2021, flagged off an integrated vaccination campaign to strengthen immunization of residents against three vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) – measles, meningitis and yellow fever. The campaign targets to reach over 4 million people in the state with the three antigens.
To launch the exercise at a ceremony in Jalingo, the state’s capital, the Governor, His Excellency Darius Ishaku urged eligible residents in the state to get vaccinated for protection against diseases.
He said, “the integrated vaccination campaign from the 17 to 27 of November 2021 is the first of its kind in Nigeria because we will be administering three vaccines concurrently – yellow fever for persons, nine months to 44 years, measles 9 to 59 months and Meningitis (Men A) 7-8 years”.
Calling for the continuous support of the leaders and partners, Governor Ishaku urged all community leaders to canvass their people to receive the vaccination to keep preventable diseases at bay in the state.
“Although Nigeria continues to experience an upsurge of some of these diseases, we are working assiduously and committed to bringing them to a bearable level. I appreciate the roles of our partners for the enormous support which is contributing to the successes recorded in this state”, he said.
Meanwhile, the flag-off was performed simultaneously in Zing Local Government Area (LGA) of the state. The campaign will cover all the 167 political wards of the 16 LGAs and the Yangtu Special Development Area (SDA) for the benefit of women and other residents in the area.
At Zing LGA, the flag-off was attended by traditional and religious leaders, the Vice Chairman of the LGA, officials of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), and community members.
Buttressing the importance of the campaign in Zing, the Deputy Director SPHCDA, Mr Matthew Yudaba, urged the residents to get vaccinated as the state and partners are working effortlessly to keep them safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Meanwhile, one of the mothers who presented her child for vaccination at the Zing LGA flag-off, Ms Ikilimatu Mohammed, expressed gratitude to the government and partners for implementing vaccination campaigns to keep their children healthy.
“My son is 17 months, and I am delighted that my child has received the vaccination against measles and yellow fever disease. I will inform others to allow their children to get vaccinated too”, she said
The integrated vaccination campaign started in Taraba state is part of the campaigns scheduled to hold in 12 other states. The campaigns target to reach more than 47 million people with lifesaving vaccines.
The other states to benefit are Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Ebonyi, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Sokoto, and Yobe. The exercise aims to attain high levels of population immunity by reaching/protecting children unreached by routine immunization services for measles and meningitis. It also serves to protect at-risk populations against yellow fever.
Measles, meningitis, and yellow fever are highly contagious viral diseases. The diseases remain the cause of death among young children and adults, despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines.
This year, Nigeria has recorded sporadic outbreaks of yellow fever, measles, and meningitis due to low routine immunization coverage. In addition, the country is within the meningitis belt, where the incidence rate for meningitis is very high, especially in the North.
As of 11 November 2021, Nigeria recorded 13 766 suspected measles cases with 9 135 confirmed. A total of 46 suspected cases of Cerebral Spinal meningitis were reported as of 4 November 2021. Also, as of 21 October 2021, over 1600 suspected yellow fever cases with 40 confirmed cases have been recorded.
The yellow fever campaign is critical to achieving the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy. The strategy steered by WHO, Gavi and UNICEF, seeks to protect at-risk populations, prevent international spread and contain outbreaks rapidly.
Commenting on the importance of the exercise, the WHO State Coordinator, Mr Ismali Farouk Umar said that these integrated campaigns (yellow fever, measles, and meningitis) are in line with Global and country strategies for measles, yellow fever, and meningitis control.