Parents who deny their children the opportunity to receive the polio vaccine are potentially subjecting them to significant risks. It is crucial to acknowledge that the World Health Organization (WHO) emphatically states that polio has no cure, only prevention. Through multiple administrations of vaccine, a child can be safeguarded for a lifetime. Two types of vaccines are currently accessible: the oral polio vaccine and the inactivated polio vaccine. These vaccines are deemed safe and effective, and their usage worldwide varies based on local epidemiological and programmatic situations. The goal is to ensure that populations receive the highest level of protection possible through strategic combinations of these vaccines.
The WHO describes polio as an extremely contagious illness that stems from a virus. This virus infiltrates the nervous system, leading to complete paralysis within a short period of time. Transmission occurs through direct contact between individuals, primarily through the ingestion of fecal matter or, less commonly, through exposure to contaminated substances like water or food. The virus thrives and reproduces in the intestines. Fever, fatigue, aching limbs, throbbing headache, neck rigidity, and vomiting mark the early signs of the condition.
Transmission occurs predominantly through sexual contact.
According to the WHO, every 200th infection results in a permanent loss of mobility, typically targeting the lower limbs. In dire cases, 5-10% of those afflicted may succumb to the disease when their respiratory muscles become paralyzed. Although primarily afflicting children aged five and below, polio can infect anyone, regardless of age, who has not been vaccinated against it. Discovery indicated that negative parental beliefs originate from viral movements circulating on social networking platforms opposing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations. These advocates claim that the vaccine is hazardous, encourages premature sexual behaviour, and leads to long-term infertility and other health complications.
HPV, as classified by UNICEF, encompasses a collection of interconnected viruses capable of infecting various regions such as the genitals, mouth, and throat. This transmission occurs predominantly through sexual contact. While the majority of HPV infections remain asymptomatic and resolve naturally, certain strains can escalate into severe health complications, even advancing into cancerous conditions. The efficacy of HPV vaccinations in averting various forms of cancer, such as cervical cancer, was highlighted. To optimize the vaccine’s impact, it is advisable for young girls aged 9 to 14 to receive it prior to any potential exposure to the virus. By lowering the overall occurrence of HPV, widespread vaccination affords protection to individuals who have not been vaccinated.
Rate of refusal has decreased, vaccination efforts have intensified.
Dr. Ibrahim Akinwumi Mustapha, a Permanent Secretary at the Lagos State Primary Health Board, signed the notification regarding the vaccination exercise in November. Notably, Dr. Mustapha has affirmed the discoveries concerning parents hindering their children from receiving the vaccine. In addition to the information that was discovered, he conveyed that certain communities subjected their vaccinators to physical assault and intimidation. However, there has been a notable improvement in the situation lately, to the extent that certain schools are now reaching out to the Board, requesting vaccinations for their students. Although the rate of refusal has decreased and vaccination efforts have intensified, there is still dissatisfaction with the current circumstances.
As stated by Dr. Ibrahim, a considerable amount of funds is being allocated by both the state government and its allies such as the federal government, WHO, and UNICEF to ensure that the vaccination is accessible to the Nigerian population. He said he is unable to quantify the exact expenditure dedicated to the vaccine, but he is aware it constitutes a substantial amount. The absence of polio vaccinations in children may trigger the reappearance of the circulating form of the virus. Diphtheria is already making a comeback, and tuberculosis rates are expected to rise. All preventable diseases that can be avoided through vaccination will start to manifest themselves.
More intense and forceful awareness programs.
Papillomavirus vaccine provides immunity against the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, which has been linked to over 70% of cervical cancer cases. In Nigeria, cervical cancer holds the position of being the second leading cause of female mortality. Despite the availability of a vaccine capable of safeguarding against this disease, there persists an alarming trend of online anti-vaccine campaigns urging parents to deny their children this crucial protection. The government has introduced a free vaccine, which has been thoroughly examined and approved by NAFDAC. By protecting children from this virus, there can be a significant reduction in the high mortality rate among women in Nigeria. The Nigerian government, both at federal and state levels, might need to initiate more intense and forceful awareness programs to change the perception of vaccines among Nigerians.