The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the need for continuous Outbreak Response (OBR) campaign and implementation of routine immunisation to interrupt vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria.
WHO Acting State Coordinator for Cross River, Dr. Biniam Getachew made this disclosure at the Official Flag-off Ceremony of the First Round of Outbreak Response on Poliomyelitis in the state.
TheFact Nigeria recalled that the Executive Secretary, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) had previously hinted that covid-19 vaccination would be integrated into the routine immunisation program available in the country.
Even though Cross River State has not reported any case of the Vaccine Derived Polio Virus Type 2 (cVDPV2) circulating in the country, the state government, supported by partners, implemented a four-days outbreak response (OBR) as a proactive measure to protect all eligible children (0-59 months).
To encourage the uptake of Covid-19 vaccination, the Cross River State Government, with support from WHO, leveraged the polio vaccination campaign by integrating Covid-19 vaccination.
At the vaccination campaign flag- off, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, said the concept was to provide service to the eligible children and their parents in an integrated manner to ensure that the parent gets access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The 4-day exercise (02 – 05 October 2021) targeted to reach 887 162 children with the nOPV2 vaccine in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs). At the end of the campaign, 926732 children had received the nOPV2 vaccine, and 124,524 and 59,843 eligible persons received the first and the second dose of COVID 19 vaccines.
Speaking on the importance of the integration of the vaccination campaign, Dr Edu said the approach would avail parents who brought their children for nOPV2 vaccination to obtain the covid-19 shot.
“Both polio and covid-19 vaccines are available across the health centers. We have advised that the service should use an integrated approach to reduce missed vaccination opportunities”, she said.
In her remark, the Director-General, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, said:
“Prevention of infectious diseases is a fight everybody must join.
“To ensure that we do not record any case of cVDPV2 in Cross River state, all hands must be on deck. We are currently responding to covid- 19 outbreak, and we would not like to combat any other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“We have introduced the high impact interventions to bridge existing vaccination gaps, and we encourage eligible persons to present themselves for vaccination”, she said.
Representing the WHO Acting State Coordinator, Dr Biniam Getachew reiterated the importance of the OBR campaign and implementation of routine immunization to interrupt vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria.
Appreciating the vaccination teams for their coordination, he said, “WHO will continue to provide the necessary support to scale up provision of integrated service delivery towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage”, he said.