Nigeria: FG partners WHO to vaccinate 26.2m Nigerians against Yellow Fever

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 26.2 million Nigerians will be vaccinated against Yellow fever during the second phase of the campaign in five states and the Federal Capital territory (FCT).

Ms Charity Warigon, the WHO Media and Communication Specialist, who made this known on Thursday in Abuja, said that it would hold from Nov. 22 to Dec.1.

Warigon said that the Federal Government with the support from WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF would vaccinate 26.2 million people against yellow fever to establish high population immunity nationwide.

According to her, the campaign, which is funded by Gavi will run from Nov. 22 to Dec.1 and targets at children and adults in Plateau, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and Borno as well as the FCT.

She said that the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with WHO and support from Gavi, had trained and deployed the Management Support Teams (MSTs) to ensure that the vaccination campaign runs smoothly.

Warigon said that the MSTs were overseeing preparations in the run-up to the campaign and in partnership with WHO, yellow fever experts, would act as supervisors and provide technical assistance during the vaccination campaign.

She said the first phase of yellow fever preventive mass vaccination campaign (PMVC) took place in January and February 2018 in Kwara, Kogi, Zamfara and parts of Borno.

“Approximately 8.7 million adults and children between the ages of nine months and 45 years of ages were vaccinated.

“A total of 39.9 million people are expected to be vaccinated against yellow fever this year.

“The campaign is taking place as Nigeria experiences a yellow fever outbreak.

“Since its start in September 2017, confirmed cases have been recorded in 27 local government areas across 14 states,’’ Warigon said.

Also, Dr Joseph Oteri, the Director of Special Duties, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said that the vaccination would be for people within nine months to 44 years cohort.

Oteri advised parents to avail themselves and their children to partake in the vaccination, stressing that the vaccine was free, safe and effective.

“Yellow fever is caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected mosquitos.

“Some patients can develop serious symptoms, including high fever and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), but the disease can be easily prevented by a vaccine that provides immunity for life,’’ Oteri said.

Commenting, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that immunising more than 26 million people was a massive undertaking.

The regional director said: “This achievement will represent a huge step toward protecting people from the potentially deadly viral haemorrhagic disease, not only in Nigeria, but in the African region.”

Dr Seth Berkley, the Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said that Nigeria was on the frontline in the global battle against yellow fever.

“Routine immunisation coverage remains dangerously low, as shown by the latest outbreak, which is why this campaign is so important to protect the vulnerable.

“While this campaign will save lives, we need to focus our efforts on the best long-term solution- improving routine immunisation coverage so every child is protected, preventing outbreaks from happening in the first place,” Berkley said.

Nigeria was one of the 50 partners pursuing the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy; steered by WHO, Gavi and UNICEF, the strategy seeks to protect at-risk populations, prevent international spread and contain outbreaks rapidly.

As part of EYE, Nigeria has developed a 10-year strategic elimination plan to reduce the incidence of yellow fever epidemics and to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of the target population in all states by 2026.

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