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Nigeria records low immunization coverage

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By Timothy Akintola

Nigeria’s 57 percent falls short of the GVAP’s 90 percent coverage goal.

Nigeria has been consistently committed to the objectives of the Global Vaccine Action Plan to reduce child killer diseases by ensuring that at least, 90 percent of children under the age of 5 immunized with every important and available vaccine. However, due to inefficiency in the immunization coverage, Nigeria has fallen short of the set coverage goal, having immunized only 57 percent of children over the last 5 years. According to the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), as well as the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS), which has also been jointly released by the Nigerian Government, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners.

In a survey by Good Health Weekly, there was an indication that numerous mothers and caregivers still had their reservations about immunizations and as a result, MICS reported that only 36 percent of children between the ages of 12 to 23 months have received all mandated Vaccines. Though the importance of prompt immunization is evidently realized, mothers and caregivers still restrict these children from receiving complete vaccines. In the case of 1 year old Abdul Abdul he has received just one vaccine which was given to him immediately after his birth at one of Lagos’ healthcare centers. His mother claimed that he had reacted differently to the BCG dose which discouraged her from letting him receive other immunizations.

Children not immunized exposed to risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Many children in Nigeria are also victims of similar situations, receiving one or two vaccines, or nothing at all. Thus, many children have been exposed to the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases as a result of these unfounded claims for avoiding immunization. The MICS report also indicated the gaps in vaccination routines. The research showed that 64 percent of children between the age of 12 to 23 months did not receive all immunizations. 46 percent did not receive all doses, 18 percent did not receive any vaccine and 30 percent thought the child was fully immunized with 6 precent unknown.

Though, the benefits of immunizations are actualized on prompt receiving of all the recommended doses, reports indicate that only 36 percent of children aged between 12-23 months have received every mandated vaccination in Nigeria. The reports further indicated that more children in the southern parts of Nigeria received full vaccinations, compared to the northern parts.

Enugu & Ebonyi lead among states with most vaccinated children.

The report stated that immunization coverage has varied across the country and thus, an urgent need for immense improvement in most of the states. According to this report, Enugu and Ebonyi have had the estimated leads among vaccinated children. These two states are reported to have the highest percentage of Penta3 coverage which is above the 90 percent goal. It is important to note that the coverage of Penta3 is noticeably higher in the south than the north. Reports disclosed that children from poor families, with mothers below 25 years old or a low level of Education are less likely to receive the three doses of Pentavalent vaccines.

According to the NICS 2021 research, child health cards are pivotal for evaluating the immunization status and only 56% of children were able to provide a child health card. States with low immunization rates also had low card availability. The research again found that 3 out of the 6 zones were huge gaps in the zero-dose prevalence between the rural and urban households, with children in rural communities likely to receive no dose. Also, in 4 of 6 zones, significant differences exist among one or more categories of maternal education with less education mothers likely to have children with zero immunization.

Most deaths of children traced back to lack of immunization.

Mr. Claes Johansson, UNICEF’s Chief of Monitoring for Results, who was responsible for tracing most deaths of children back to their lack of immunization, noted that though the 2021 Immunization Report indicated an improvement from 44 percent to 57 percent, vaccination has a significant impact on the Child Mortality rate and women education plays an important role in child vaccination. He stated that the benefits of these vaccines are only realized after all recommended doses have been promptly taken and urged the government to take this action as a priority.


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