By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has warned that with only 36 percent of children aged 12-23 months receiving all recommended vaccines, a substantial number of Nigerian children are at risk of death and disability from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The global organization noted that the immunisation coverage in Nigeria is below the Global Vaccine Action Plan, GVAP, which exposes a huge number of children in the country to preventable diseases and deaths.
UNICEF Health Specialist, Port Harcourt Field Office, Eghe Abe who sounded the warning at a One-Day multi-zonal Media Dialogue with Journalists on Dissemination of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, MICS, 2021 disclosed that the figures from recent surveys indicated that 64 percent of children aged 12-23 months did not receive all routine immunizations in the country.
Quoting the National Immunisation Coverage Survey, NICS, 2021, Abe noted that the immunisation coverage varied across the geopolitical zones with the northern part of the country recording low rate of vaccination.
In his breakdown, he observed that “from the survey only 32 percent of children received all doses of vaccine in the North Central. In the North East only 24 percent of children received all doses; while in the North West only 25 percent of children received all the doses.”
According to him, “57 percent of children received all doses of vaccine in the South East. The South South recorded 49 percent coverage of children who received all doses while in the South West only 50 percent of children received all the doses.”
The Health Specialist opined that the coverage figure was not good enough for the children stressing that more needed to be done by governments and all stakeholders to save Nigerian children by getting them fully vaccinated in order to avert the childhood killer diseases that are preventable with vaccines.
He identified lack of knowledge and information as the main reported reason for children not being fully vaccinated in the country saying, “that is why more is needed to be done in that direction.”