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Stakeholders to mothers: Immunise your children against measles

. . . Vaccine saves lives
As part of efforts to reduce Nigeria’s high under-five deaths, mothers have been urged to bring out their children for immunisation against measles as the Lagos State 2018 Measles vaccination campaign begins today.

The vaccination campaign will hold between 15 and 29 March, 2018, in all health facilities in the state and designated posts in communities with a target of 3.6 million children from nine months to five years.

Speaking at a Media Orientation Programme on the campaign in Lagos on Monday, organised by the state government in collaboration with UNICEF, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Iyabo Aare, said the measles campaign was also targeted at immunising all eligible children, irrespective of previous vaccination history.

According to Aare, the measles vaccine is free, safe and also saves lives.

She stated that during the previous measles campaign in 2015, the state met 86.2 per cent of the expected 95 per cent coverage target.

The state, she noted, could not achieve optimal coverage due to some resistant groups, including churches, mosques and estates where vaccinators were not allowed to vaccinate children.

“This campaign is very important for our children to protect them from this killer disease, to secure them because they are our future. The campaign is in collaboration with UNICEF, WHO, the National Primary Healthcare Board Development Agency and other partners”,she said.

Measles according to experts is a highly contagious viral illness transmitted through respiratory droplets and with mortality more amongst children who are less than 5 years of age as well as malnourished children, especially with Vitamin A deficiency and those who live in crowded condition.

Symptoms include: cough, fever, red eyes, light, sensitivity, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat and white spots inside the mouth.

Stakeholders say immunisation was one of the most important and potent means of preventing childhood mortality.

According to experts, a child is considered fully immunised if he or she has received vaccines such as Bacilli Calmatte Guerin (BCG) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), Diphetaria Pertusis; Tetanus, Yellow Fever, Measles and Hipatitis B.

Highlighting the importance of the measles campaign, UNICEF’s Health Specialist, Dr Charles Nwosisi, said Nigeria ranked number one for being the most unimmunised for measles vaccine 1st dose, with 3.3 million children as compared to India with 2.9 children.

Nwosisi said that Nigeria was also 192 out of 200 countries in global ranking for measles vaccination coverage. According to him, measles vaccination coverage in 2016 was below the 95 per cent coverage target as Nigeria met 51 per cent coverage.

He said: “This 2017/2018 campaign has been tagged: ”Catch-up” campaign; it is to mop-up or reach children that have been missed over the years, so as to meet the 95 per cent target coverage.”

In her remarks, Immunisation Programme Officer, Lagos State, Dr Olubunmi Akinlade, described measles as a dangerous disease caused by a virus and one of the leading causes of death among young children. Akinlade said that measles could cause blindness, death and reduce a child’s ability to fight other diseases, resulting in frequent illness.

On her part, Modupe Owojuyigbe, Director, Health Education, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, said it was important for children to receive immunisation during the campaign to be fully protected against measles.

“The vaccines are safe, free and not harmful to children; a child that does not complete his routine immunisation is half protected. “The best protection against measles is to be vaccinated and complete one’s routine immunisation; vaccination will save more lives”, she said.

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