WHO has published Millions of children to receive measles vaccine in north-eastern Nigeria. Excerpt:
A mass vaccination campaign to protect more than 4 million children (4 766 214) against a measles outbreak in conflict-affected states in north-eastern Nigeria is planned to start this week.
The two-week campaign, which starts on 13 January, will target all children aged from 6 months to 10 years in accessible areas in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
"This measles vaccination campaign is an emergency intervention to protect more than 4 million children against a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease," says Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO Representative in Nigeria. "Massive disruption to health services in conflict-affected areas for many years has deprived these children of essential childhood vaccinations. In addition, many of them have severe malnutrition, making them extremely vulnerable to serious complications and death from measles."
Polio programme provides crucial support
WHO is supporting the 3 state Primary Healthcare Development Agencies to prepare for the campaign; working with partners including UNICEF, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health nongovernmental organizations. WHO is providing expertise in areas including logistics, data management, training, social mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, supportive supervision (human resource) and waste management.
"Nigeria’s well-established polio vaccination programme provides a strong underpinning for the campaign," says Dr Alemu. "Population data from the polio programme has been essential to guide planning for the measles campaign. We are also able to make use of staff that have vast experience in providing health services in very difficult and risky areas."
High insecurity, difficult terrain and lack of functioning health facilities add to the enormous logistical challenges of organizing a large mass vaccination campaign that requires assembling and training more than 4000 vaccination teams and ensuring the vaccine is kept within cold chain conditions (+2⁰ to 8⁰ C) in a climate where average daytime temperatures are above 30⁰ C.
The vaccination teams for this campaign are made up of 7 people including a supervisor, vaccinators (health workers), record keepers, community mobilizers and town criers. The teams will also give children deworming medication and vitamin A supplements at the same time as the measles vaccination.
To prevent double vaccinations especially in schools and camps for displaced people, vaccination cards will be issued to all vaccinated children as well as the use of pen markers to mark their thumbs.