Integrated vaccines, a new path to full immunization in Nigeria
Targeting some states and local governments, UNICEF and partners are embarking on new ways to ensure no child is deprived of life-saving vaccines through an integrated vaccines campaign
Lagos, Nigeria: The integrated vaccines campaign kicked-off following the resurgence of deadly diseases, including measles in some parts of Nigeria.
The exercise provides all services at the same location. It captures children from 9-59 months vaccinated against all the childhood killer diseases and COVID-19 vaccine given to persons aged 18 years and above.
“Nigeria currently has the highest global burden of measles outbreaks and there have been several outbreaks in some of our local government areas here in Lagos” said Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, First Lady of Lagos State while flagging off the campaign.
Sanwo-Olu added that “the 2022 integrated vaccines campaign will improve efficiency and effectiveness, especially at the primary health care level to enable parents and caregivers access multiple services at the same time.”
In 2020, 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines; the figure was 3.7 million in 2019. As of April 2022, there were 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks around the world. Most of the cases were reported in Africa and the East Mediterranean region.
During the outbreak in Lagos, Egan ward in Alimosho local government area had two confirmed cases. Omolola Fabiyi, a Nurse and the ward focal person for Egan ward, sees the campaign as a welcome development. “The integrated vaccines exercise is a good innovation, it will help us avert outbreaks and cover the zero dose cases in the state, thereby further reducing the childhood mortality rate.”
Fabiyi supervises twenty-four teams, which immunized over 30,946 children with measles vaccine and vaccinated 1,245 adults with the COVID-19 vaccines during the campaign.
“Apart from some of our teams being at the temporary posts such as schools, we had two fixed post and five private health facilities supporting the campaign” added Fabiyi.
Since the start of the integrated campaign, UNICEF and partners have been advocating and supporting the Nigerian government with logistical and technical support to expand the vaccination coverage to reach every child in the country.
In one of the Nursery and Primary schools at Surulere local government area, some parents who were excited to hear of the exercise, came to ensure that their children were vaccinated. Amongst them was Medinat Muhammed whose four-year-old daughter Oluwafikayomi received the vaccination.
I didn’t want my daughter to miss the vaccination, that’s why I came to see that she receives it; said Medinat.
Nigeria’s UNICEF Chief of Health, Eduardo Celades, believes that “this campaign opens a unique opportunity to Nigeria: by integrating different interventions in a single campaign, we are maximizing the impact of our efforts to reach children and adults with health services, including Covid-19, vaccination against polio and measles, and Vit. A”
Following such efforts, Eduardo added “we believe if we are successful, Nigeria should be able to scale-up this approach to other States.”