States expand vaccination to underserved communities, close immunization gaps

Osun, 20 May, 2022 - At the Akindeko market in downtown Osogbo, the capital of Osun State located in South-West Nigeria, the female head of the market (Iya-oloja) Mrs Kabiru, has taken it upon herself to raise awareness on the importance of immunization among the community.

Using her leadership position in the market, Mrs Kabiru advises other traders especially women, that vaccines are beneficial for children and adults.

“Children and adults, especially women, should always present themselves for immunization services whenever it is available. Vaccination is important to building a healthy community because it protects against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, Hepatitis B for children, and recently the COVID-19 virus for adults.

I want to advise those who are yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccines to do so for their benefit, she said at the Market, during an immunization sensitization walk in Osun to commemorate the 2022 African Vaccination/World Immunization Week (AVW/WIW)”.

Mrs Kabiru’s statement aligns with the 2022 theme for the AVW “Long life for all”. Every year the World Health Organization (WHO) marks African Vaccination Week (AVW) in the last week of April (24-30), in conjunction with World Immunization Week.

Scaling up vaccination coverage

The week is an important opportunity to address the importance of immunization as a life-saving innovation and encourage the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases.

To push the agenda forward, both Osun and Ondo State, in collaboration with WHO, joined other states across the country to commemorate the AVW by expanding sensitization, vaccination activities and providing integrated delivery of free services to people in the states.

Starting in Osun, the sensitization and intervention team was led by the State Immunization Officer Mrs Francisca Olaore Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board (OSPHCDB) who buttressed the significance of routine immunization for children and the COVID-19 vaccination for adults

“We want to appreciate WHO for providing technical support for immunization activities in areas such as health education, children vaccination and tracking those who had missed routine vaccinations”.

To emphasize the importance of AVW, Dr Ojediran-Shobowale of WHO said that “the week also provides an opportunity of educating people on benefits and availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the state.”

Meanwhile in Ondo state, WHO in collaboration with the Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (OSPHCDA) and the media commemorated the AVW 2022 with a joint press conference and vacation campaign to the underserved communities and rural areas in the state.

The highlight of field activities to mark 2022 AVW was a lecture on the importance of immunization delivered by the State Immunization Officer and the vaccination of eligible children with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and incentives distributed to Mothers/Caregivers as a token of appreciation for ensuring that their children are immunized precisely.

The Permanent Secretary OSPHCDA, Dr Francis Akanbiemu, said “immunization is every child’s right as such it should not be denied by anyone”.
He further admonished the Caregivers on the need to always come along with their child/ward’s immunization card regardless of the type of visit made to the health facility.

Beneficiaries speak

Appreciating the government for vaccination services, Damilola Omolara, a mother whose 3-month-old child was vaccinated at the event said that her husband has been supportive of the immunization of their child.

“My husband reminded me of the event and encouraged me to bring our daughter for the vaccination drive. Immunization is important because as the child grows, she needs to be very healthy and one of the important ways to ensure this is to have her fully immunized”.

Also, Uduchukwu Solomon, a father of three said he ensured that all his children are vaccinated.

“I know immunization prevents sickness and diseases and can allow the child to grow healthy. In my opinion, if any parent refuses to allow their children to get vaccinated, they are being unfair to them”, he said.

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