Nigeria to immunize 35 M children against measles

ABUJA, (PNA/Xinhua) — Nigeria is set to immunize an estimated 35 million children against measles this month, an official said in Abuja on Thursday.

The immunization exercise will be conducted in two phases and children between nine months and five years will benefit from the program, according to Executive Director of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency Ado Muhammad.

The first phase, which will kick off in the capital city Abuja and the 19 northern states of the West African country, will take place between Oct. 5 and Oct. 9, he said.

“Between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6, the second phase would take place in all the southern states,” he added.

The campaign would reduce the cases of measles in the country, Muhammad noted.

An oral polio vaccine and other antigens will also be available for immunizing eligible children irrespective of their previous status, the official said.

“About 20 million doses of safe and potent measles vaccines have been released for the campaign in the north, while 15 million of same vaccines were released for the exercise in the southern part of the country,” he disclosed.

More than 34,000 teams made up of 10 persons per team would be engaged in the immunization exercise sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, other key development partners and the government of Nigeria.

“Each team is made up of team supervisors, immunization officers, community mobilizers, town announcers and recorders,” the official explained further.

Measles, a highly infectious viral illness, can lead to serious complications, including blindness and even death in children.

Less than seven years ago, Nigeria conducted an immunization exercise with subsequent programs held in 2008 and 2011.

As of last month, the West African country reported 53,842 cases of measles, out of which 330 died, marking a sharp rise from a year ago, when there were 104 deaths out of the 8,243 reported cases.