Children below the age of five have started to receive measles vaccines in Cross River State, southern Nigeria as the cases surges within and outside the country.
The World Health Organization, WHO, reported that Nigeria is one of the top 5 countries with rising cases of measles in the past 12 months due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which resulted to the postponement of vaccine-preventable campaigns.
However, with the global reduction in the rate of new COVID-19 infections, the Nigerian Government through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency supported by the WHO and other development partners launched the integrated measles campaign, which was being flagged off across the 36 states on selected dates.
In Cross River State, the deputy governor, Professor Ivara Esu kicked off the campaigns by administering measles vaccines to some children between 9 months and above in Calabar metropolis.
Professor Esu noted that the rising cases of measles in Nigeria and globally was a source of serious concern, a situation the state government was determined to keep out of its rural and urban communities.
Esu stated, “people are no longer worried about COVID-19; they no longer wear masks or observe social distancing, which is enhancing the spread of preventable diseases that would have easily been prevented.”
To caregivers, parents and guardians, the deputy governor said, “we urge parents whose children were from 9 months to 5 years of age, who have missed this vaccine to come forward and ensure that their wards are vaccinated against measles and diarrhea, while adults avail themselves of COVID-19 vaccination.
“This administration,” he said “attaches 100 percent attention on the issue of vaccination and immunization and hopes that residents in the state would do same.”
Also speaking, the Director General of the Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong said that measles campaign would target at 700 thousand children in all the communities.
Ekpenyong stated that measles happens to be “one of the major cause of infant and child mortality and the good news is that it is preventable. The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination.”
The Director General remarked that the difference between the routine immunization and measles campaign was to bridge whatever gap and reach children, who may have missed out during the regular vaccination.
She also said, “we also introduced the rota vaccine in Cross River State. A while ago, it was launched at the national level. The rota vaccine would help prevent diarrhea that usually caused by the rotavirus. Before now, it was a scarce commodity found only in private health facilities some times.”
She commended the Nigerian Government for ensuring that children between the ages of zero to 5 years would be vaccinated and protected against the virus. It is totally free and available in all our health facilities.
“I encourage every parent, caregivers to ensure that their children, who are eligible for this vaccines are vaccinated. We have tried to decentralize the whole process such that health workers would be moving from house-to-house, worship centres, schools, crèche and public places just to make sure that we do not miss any child,” Ekpenyong stated.
She expressed the hope that Cross River would achieve One hundred percent coverage at the end of the one week exercise.