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The federal government will on Friday begin a preventive yellow fever immunisation campaign in two high-risk states, Rivers and Anambra.

The campaign will be conducted in partnership with the World Health Organisation, Gavi, and the Vaccine Alliance and is targeted towards the elimination of the disease in the country.

The WHO in a statement released on Thursday said this is part of the government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of the deadly infectious disease which was once thought to have been eradicated in the country.

The campaign is aimed at reaching nearly 12 million persons in Rivers and Anambra states and will start in Rivers on February 28, according to the official WHO statement.

WHO said the campaigns are part of the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) by 2026.

New campaign

WHO said the campaign in Rivers provides an opportunity to protect more than 6.5 million persons aged nine months to 44 years.

The next scheduled campaign is planned for April 2020 in Anambra where yellow fever vaccination will be combined with meningococcal A conjugate (MenA) vaccine.

“Following these campaigns planned in the two states, seven other states are proposed for yellow fever vaccination campaigns later in the year as part of Nigeria’s accelerated EYE plan. This will create an opportunity to vaccinate another 32 million persons before the end of the year,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Director for Disease Control and Immunisation, NPHCDA, Joseph Oteri, said “protection against yellow fever for life is the ultimate goal”.

The vaccine confers lifelong protection and is the most effective tool to prevent outbreaks of this potentially deadly disease.

Outbreak

Nigeria is one of the priority countries for the EYE Strategy and it is expected that more that almost 160 million Nigerians will be protected against yellow fever by the end of 2026 through preventive mass vaccination campaigns alone.

This became necessary after the report of the resurgence of the yellow fever disease in the country.

WHO said the disease has re-emerged as a public health threat in recent decades, triggered by different factors such as climate change, increasing population movement and distribution of mosquito vectors.

Nigeria recorded the resurgence of yellow fever in September 2017 when the first case detected in a small girl in Kwara State.

Since then, the country has been recording cases of the disease.

In 2019, 47 people died from the fever in Nigeria.

According to NCDC, between January 1 to December 27, Nigeria recorded 193 confirmed positive cases and 47 deaths were reported from 38 local governments in 15 states, including the FCT.

So far this year, NCDC said 37 suspected cases have been reported from 21 LGAs in 17 states.

None was laboratory confirmed and no death was recorded.

Scourge

To protect Nigerians and eradicate the disease from the country, the preventive vaccine has become a necessary measure as yellow fever is vaccine-preventable.

Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

The infection can cause serious disease, including fever and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes) and can even lead to death.

The country has since 2017 embarked on preventive and reactive campaigns.

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