The Abia state government says it has trained 490 health workers ahead of the 2018 statewide measles vaccination.
The state Health Educator, Mrs Margaret Onwu, told newsmen on Thursday in Umuahia, the state capital that the state Primary Health Care Development Agency was ready for the exercise.
She said the vaccination which would be flagged off by the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu on March 6, would take place between March 8 and March 20.
She explained that it would be health-facility-based, rather than house-to-house exercise, adding that mothers are expected to bring their children between nine months and five years to the facilities to be vaccinated.
“Health workers will be deployed to the healthcare centres and temporary health posts and they will be there waiting for mothers to bring forward their children and wards for vaccination,” she said.
Onwu said that the 490 health workers, which were allotted to Abia by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, would operate in different teams across the 17 local government areas of the state.
She said that each team would comprise seven health personnel, including two injection vaccinators, two recorders, one house-to-house mobiliser, an announcer (town crier) that would move from village to village and a crowd controller.
Meanwhile, Onwu said that the rumour about Monkey Pox, which was associated with vaccination, posed a serious threat to immunisation in the state.
She said that the rumour was so strong that many mothers still believed it and had vowed not to submit their children for any kind of vaccination.
She said that available record showed that the number of children that were being brought for vaccination in different health facilities in the state had dropped substantially from about 30 to five daily.
Onwu said “the monkey pox ruined our efforts on immunisation. Our immunisation process was truncated as a result of the rumour, which is still being entertained by most mothers.”
She underscored the importance of vaccination, saying that the 2014 WHO ranking of the prevalence of the disease in Nigeria placed Abia as the second highest with measles burden.
Onwu and the Director of Information, state Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr Iyke Odoemelam, who is in charge of the media for the vaccination campaign, therefore solicited media intervention toward changing the mindset of the people.
“We appeal to the media to join us in the campaign to ensure the success of the exercise, against the backdrop of the Monkey Pox rumour,” Odoemelam said.