This year’s Measles Vaccination Campaign by the Lagos State Ministry of Health kicks off in earnest on Thursday 15th of this month (March), and will terminate on Thursday 29th March, 2018. This was just made public in a statement signed by Adeola Salako, Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry. While briefing news hunters, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care stated that the exercise which targets children of ages 9 months to 5 years will reach out to about 3,609,538 children within the state.
In the words of Dr. Onanuga, “The objective of the campaign is to immunise at least 95 percent of children aged 9 months to 5 years with measles vaccine in all local government areas regardless of their previous immunisation status.” He further explained that the measles vaccination campaign will be implemented in two streams, stressing that the first stream will hold in Alimosho, Agege, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin ,Epe, Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Mushin and Ojo local government areas between 15th and 22nd March, 2018.
He added that the second stream will hold between Thursday 22nd and Thursday 29th March, 2018 in Apapa, Badagry, Eti-Osa, Ibeju-Lekki, Ikeja, Ifako-Ijaiye, kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Somolu and Surulere LGAs. “Mop-up exercises would be carried out for the first and second streams between 21st and 22nd of March, 2018 and 28th and 29th of March, 2018 respectively in wards and communities adjudged not to have been adequately covered, as set out in the objectives of the campaign”, the Special Adviser said.
Onanuga further explained that two types of vaccination posts – the Fixed Post and the Temporary Fixed Post will be used for the campaign, adding that the Fixed Vaccination Posts will be located at permanent health facilities where immunisation will be provided between the hours of 8am and 4pm. The fixed posts according to him will also serve as depots for storage and distribution of vaccine and other supplies to the temporary fixed sites.
“The Temporary Fixed Vaccination Posts on the other hand will be located at selected public and private schools, mosques, churches, town halls, houses of traditional leaders, bus stops or terminals, motor parks, streets and markets, and hard-to-reach areas and border communities. Immunisation will be provided at these sites from the hours of 8am to 4pm”, he noted.
The Special Adviser revealed that over 4,526 house-to-house mobilisers have been mandated to encourage eligible children that fall within the operational target population to visit the immunisation posts for measles vaccine and the other antigens, adding that 4,526 fixed and temporary fixed posts will be set up for the campaign.
While appealing to parents and caregivers to ensure that all the children between 9 months and 5 years are taken to the health posts for the measles vaccination, Onanuga stated the vaccination service is free, the vaccine is safe and effective, and is to be administered to the children irrespective of their previous immunisation status. “This is with a view to protecting them against the preventable killer diseases”, he said.
Noting that remarkable progress has been made in the prevention of measles infection and its attendant complications through the introduction of measles vaccination, the Special Adviser said many training workshops had been organised to strengthen the capacity of relevant health workers in micro-planning, social mobilisation and actual implementation to ensure the success of this year’s campaign.
Onanuga added that the State Government has equally embarked on massive media campaign to sensitise and mobilise the citizenry effectively, stressing that town announcements, community dialogues, mosque and church announcements, sensitisations with schools are taking place. He added that advocacy meetings with LGA Chairmen, Ward Councillors, and Supervisory Councillors for health and key traditional and religious leaders are also being carried out.
Onanuga who noted that the responsibility to vaccinate all eligible children against measles is not that of the parents and care givers alone, opined also that the responsibility rests on everybody to ensure that children are fully immunised against childhood preventable diseases.
“I am therefore pleading with all our leaders in the State; Politicians, Councilors, Traditional leaders, and Religious leaders to take full responsibility in ensuring that every child in their community receives all the necessary polio and other scheduled immunisations. This campaign is another window of opportunity to protect our children from these vaccine preventable diseases”, he said.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness transmitted through respiratory droplets and with mortality higher amongst children who are less than 5 years of age as well as malnourished children, especially with Vitamin ‘A’ deficiency, and living in crowded conditions.
Sammy Adaba with Agency Reports