The Ondo State government, through the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, has flagged off the introduction of meningitis vaccine – (MenA) – into the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule.

The event took place on Friday 16th August 2019. It was held at Comprehensive Health Centre, Arakale, in Akure, the State capital.

The Executive Secretary of Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Francis Adegoke Akanbiemu, said that meningitis was a deadly disease that could be prevented by vaccinating children with MenA, the vaccine that was being introduced into the EPI schedule.

Ondo Introduces Meningitis Vaccine Into EPI Schedule As 26.7 Million Children at High Risk In Nigeria
Dr. Francis Adegoke Akanbiemu speaking at the event.

The Honorable Commissioner for Health, who flagged off the introduction of the vaccine into the EPI Schedule in the state, admonished mothers to take advantage of the new vaccine to ensure their children were fully protected.

Further, he said that the state contributory health scheme would fully kick off in October 2019, telling mothers that a new dawn for health had emerged in the State.

Ondo Introduces Meningitis Vaccine Into EPI Schedule As 26.7 Million Children at High Risk In Nigeria
Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, Commissioner for Health, Ondo State speaking at the flag off ceremony.

In his own remarks, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaibu, in message delivered by the Ondo State Coordinator, NPHCDA, Mr. Adeoye Adetunji, said that 25 states in Nigeria were within the meningitis belt where the disease occurred most frequently in Africa with about 26.7 million children aged 1-7 years at risk.

“Nigeria has 25 states and the FCT that fall within the meningitis belt. This translates to approximately 26.7 million people aged 1 – 7 years at risk of meningitis in the country.
Vaccines are the only way to prevent serious diseases like meningitis.”

He further stressed that NPHCDA and partners had trained all health workers across all health facilities in Nigeria on the safe administration of the meningitis vaccine.

With the introduction into Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) schedule, meningitis vaccine will now be administered as a single dose to children at 9 months of age alongside Yellow Fever and Measles vaccines.

The NPHCDA further noted that as usual the vaccines were free of charge, effective and safe.

“I wish to use this opportunity to reassure all Nigerians that Men A vaccine and all other vaccines provided by the FGN is safe, potent, and effective in protecting our children from vaccine preventable diseases,” the Executive Director concluded.

The Chairman, Akure South local government, Barrister Gbenga Olaniyi, while addressing the gathering, advised mothers to ignore rumours around safety of vaccines, telling them that vaccines were both safe and effective.

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The Hon. Commissioner for Health, the Executive Secretary of OSPHCDA and the Medical Officer of Health for Akure South local government, Dr. Napoleon Ejeheri, took turns to vaccinate eligible children at the occasion with meningitis vaccine.

Ondo Introduces Meningitis Vaccine Into EPI Schedule As 26.7 Million Children at High Risk In Nigeria
Hon. Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, vaccinating a child with MenA at the launch.
Ondo Introduces Meningitis Vaccine Into EPI Schedule As 26.7 Million Children at High Risk In Nigeria
Dr. Akanbiemu, ES-OSPHCDA, administering MenA at the event.

Also present at the occasion were representatives of WHO and UNICEF. Additionally present included royal fathers, market leaders, health workers, representatives of professional associations in health and health workers among others.

Highlight of the event also entailed the distribution of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) to mothers who brought their children for vaccination by the Chairman of Akure South local government.

Ondo Introduces Meningitis Vaccine Into EPI Schedule As 26.7 Million Children at High Risk In Nigeria
Chairman of Akure South local government, Gbenga Olaniyi, presenting a Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Net (LLIN) to a mother at the occasion.

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