COVID-19: Anambra records low turnout for routine immunisation

The Anambra Primarily Healthcare Development Agency on Saturday decried the low turnout of routine immunisation meant to protect children against diseases.

Tribune Online reports that Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, Executive Secretary of the agency attributed the low turnout to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ezenyimulu expressed her displeasure at a Media Orientation on Measles Immunisation Awareness organised by the agency, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in Awka.

Ezenyimulu said that if mothers and caregivers were not vaccinating their children, it might make children susceptible to diseases or cause outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.

According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic should never be an excuse for not having children immunised.

“Unfortunately, we are experiencing COVID-19 pandemic, and also the rumoured controversial COVID-19 vaccine. This is discouraging caregivers from vaccinating their children.

”I want to inform you that no vaccine has been developed for coronavirus in the entire world.  Immunisation is an essential healthcare service and COVID-19 does not stop it.

On the national dashboard, we saw a decline in the number of vaccinated children in the state due to misinformation and fear.

“I’m appealing to mothers and caregivers that even, in the face of the pandemic, ensure you take your children for their routine immunisation because children need it to stay healthy.

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“This COVID-19 may stay with us for a long time and you don’t want to wait till it’s over before you immunise your child,” she said.

Also, Dr Nnamdi Uliagbafusi, Director, Disease Control and Immunisation at the agency, said immunisation was key to improving health and welfare of children.

Uliagbafusi said vaccine protect children from diseases and death caused by measles, diphtheria, hepatitis B, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, yellow fever, pneumonia and meningitis.

“The immunisation services are free at our healthcare centres, the vaccines are safe and effective and are to be administered to children, irrespective of their previous immunisation status,“ he said.

In her presentation, the state Immunisation Officer, Mrs Nkechi Onwuvunka, who spoke on various aspects of vaccine-preventable diseases, pleaded with caregivers to ensure that their children take the second dose of the measles vaccine.

Onwuvunka explained that children were formerly immunised against measles at nine months, but it was discovered that only about 85 per cent of children immunised were protected.

“We used to give the first dose of measles vaccine at nine months but studies have shown that a boost is necessary for total prevention. The second dose given at 15 months is to boost immunity.

“It was realised that only 85 per cent of children developed immunity with only one dose, so, a second dose was introduced in 2019 to take care of the remaining 15 per cent,” she said.

In his remarks, Dr Diden Gbofeyin, UNICEF Consultant in Anambra, urged the media to help spread the word about the importance of immunisation across the nooks and crannies of the state.

Gbofeyin also urged community leaders and parents to embrace and increase the uptake on immunisation to protect children from deadly diseases. (NAN)

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