Nigeria starts aggressive polio vaccine campaign across the country

FILE PHOTO: Health worker tries to immunise a child during a vaccination campaign against polio./PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/Getty Images)
Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria’s capital Abuja February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

“My son Aliyu Abubakar is two months old, this is the first time he is receiving vaccination, going out there to take him was quite a hassle. I am glad the house-to house team is here to save us waiting time at vaccination post. My other children have taken complete doses of vaccine and are very healthy, this is the reason my husband insisted Aliyu gets vaccinated upon seeing your people”, says Hauwa Mohammed, a mother of three children at Wassa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp, Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Similarly, Hafsat Hammad, another resident of the IDP Camp said, “I have been here for six years, we are always happy when teams come here to vaccinate our children, my two children have gotten all doses of vaccines. I am expecting another baby and I will make sure he gets the same.

I want to use this opportunity to call on all mothers to vaccinate their children because it is the best way to protect them from diseases. Especially for us living in camps where contacting diseases can be very easy”, she added.

Both respondents are parents of eligible children, part of the 55.5 million targeted population for the National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs) campaign implemented in the 36+1 Nigerian States (12-18 February, 2020). With the realization that children are more vulnerable to infections, the campaign also administered other antigens against vaccine preventable diseases through fixed posts.

In FCT for instance, out of the 854,720 targeted children, the government with support from World Health Organization (WHO), successfully reached 810,859 with all vaccines.

Speaking on political will to maintain Polio-free status, the Minister of State for FCT, Dr Ramatu Tijani Aliyu reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Government towards polio eradication and polio free certification of the African Region. She stated this at the flag off of the NIPDs organized by the FCT Primary Health Care Development Agency, in conjunction with the WHO FCT field office, UNICEF, Rotary and other partners, at Dutse Makaranta settlement, Bwari Area Council FCT, where 182 children were vaccinated with Oral Polio Vaccine.

“We have mandated six Area Council Chairmen to release counterpart funds prior to implementation of the campaign and attend daily evening review meetings to profer solutions to challenges encountered in the field.”

She also urged members of the community to vaccinate eligible children using the national schedule as she noted that, “Routine immunization and supplemental immunization activities are the strategies aimed for vaccinating children aged five and below one against poliomyelitis and other vaccine preventable diseases.”
NIPDs is a countrywide supplemental immunization exercise, geared towards ensuring herd immunity among children under five years against poliomyelitis and for maintain polio-free status. The February 2020 four-day campaign, targeted children of 0 – 59 months of age to be reached in their houses, markets, schools, churches, mosques, and playgrounds