The Enugu State Government says it is targeting no fewer than 381,572 children in its statewide free Rotavirus Intensification Vaccination Campaign for children between six weeks and 12 months.
Rotavirus is a very contagious virus that causes diarrhea.
It would be recalled that the Rotavirus vaccination was before now being administered in private health facilities at a whooping cost of N7,000 per oral dose drop and a child needed three oral dose drops within a space of some weeks.
The Executive Secretary of Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. George Ugwu, disclosed this during a stakeholders’ meeting on the introduction of Rotavirus vaccination among other routine immunisations in the state.
Ugwu noted that the introduction of the vaccination would be heralded by the week-long Rotavirus Intensification Vaccination Campaign starting on Saturday, December 3, adding that there might be a mop if need be to capture more children.
He said, “We have truly moved from curative to preventive medicine in Enugu State by the state’s deliberate and intensified childhood vaccination as well as adding new vaccines to further fortify all children living within the state.
“We are grateful to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for approving and funding this Rotavirus vaccination campaign to get to all children free of charge and ensuring that all children below 12 months partake in it in all nooks and crannies of the state.
“We appreciate the Primary Health Care Development Agency and other health partners for this new feat and for sustaining all efforts being made by Governor Ugwuanyi to reduce the health burden of families in the state.”
The executive secretary explained that rotavirus causes diarrhoeal disease leading to dehydration and hospitalization of the child.
Ugwu noted that most times, the disease does not easily stop immediately notwithstanding the medications (anti-biotic) given until the viral infection runs its normal course.
He noted that it remained one of the most deadly and disturbing childhood killer diseases, as it is highly communicable while putting every other member of the family in a situation of distress if a child had to be continuously stooling (poo).
“Today, we are engaging stakeholders to ensure the effectiveness of the week-long free Rotavirus Intensification Vaccination Campaign as they have supported us when we recently introduced Measles 2nd dose vaccine, Meningitis (Men A) vaccine, and COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
Ugwu said that after the statewide campaign, the Rotavirus vaccination would be administered in all health-centres and health posts for children at six weeks for the first dose, 10 weeks for the second dose and 14 weeks for the third dose.
The Director of Disease Control and Immunisation in ENS-PHCDA, Dr. Chinelo Nnadi, said that the need for the Rotavirus vaccination cannot be over-emphasised as children even from highly clean and health-conscious families mix up with other children in schools or other public places.
Nnadi noted that due to the high communicability of the disease, a child not vaccinated or protected can contact the disease by mixing up and playing with other children normally.
“A mother and other members of the family will feel highly concerned seeing an infant or child in the family stooling and vomiting uncontrollably, losing weight and looking so feeble with no strength.
“So, we all must work together to eliminate such a disease that deals decisively with children and if not handled very well we might end up losing the child,” she said.
The State Health Educator, Mrs Amaka Nsude, urged the stakeholders to spread the message on the need that every child under 12 months must receive the vaccination, notwithstanding the number of times the oral dose of the vaccine a child received before.
Nsude said that the Rotavirus vaccination had enormous benefits for the child, family, neighbourhood, community and the entire state.
“We have made adequate preparation on the side of training the vaccinators, health educator/communicators as well as distributed extensive letters/correspondents to communities and traditional/community rulers on this campaign,” he said.
The stakeholders, who are community/religious leaders, media practitioners, educationists, civil society members, and security personnel among others, gave their commitment to ensuring that no child between six weeks and 12 months would be left out in the state.