Meningitis: Lagos state introduces Men-A Vaccine

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board in conjunction with Partners have announced the introduction of Meningitis vaccine (Men-A vaccine) into Routine Immunisation schedule in Lagos State.

Mrs Modupe Owojuyigbe, Director, Health Education, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, said in Lagos on Friday, that the meningitis vaccination would start from Aug. 19.

According to her, Meningitis vaccine (Men-A vaccine) is safe, free and effective.

Owojuyigbe, who is the Social Mobilisation and Demand Creation Director for Lagos state, said other states are also introducing the Men-A vaccine into the routine immunisation schedule at the same time.

“Meningitis vaccine was not part of our routine immunisation but now we have introduced it. It is going to be part of the immunisation. It is going to be given at age nine months to 15 months; children also take yellow fever at nine months; so now, they will also be taking meningitis vaccine.’’

She said the introduction of men-A vaccine into the routine immunisation is necessary because Nigeria is within the belt of meningitis disease, whereby meningitis is common.

On the causes and possible ways to prevent meningitis, she said: “Meningitis is caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi.

“The incidence is most common during the dry season, especially with the dust of the dry season and the cold night. It is not only children that can be affected with meningitis, it can affect any age group. But it is most common in and affects children of one year to seven years more than adults and this is the age that we can prevent now. Vaccinating children with meningitis vaccine and maintaining hygiene in the environment by avoiding overcrowding helps prevent the disease,” she said.

She advised that places with poor ventilation be also avoided.

Owojuyigbe emphasised that the meningitis vaccine would be given alongside with Measles and Yellow fever vaccine.

According to her, it is very safe to take the three vaccines together the same day.

She urged parents and wards to take their nine to 15 months old child/children to the nearest Primary Health Care Centres for Meningitis vaccination (Men-A vaccine) from Aug. 19.

Owojuyigbe explained that meningitis involves the inflammation of the meninges and it is a devastating disease that causes serious global public health concern.

“The membranes that line the skull and the vertebrae as well as enclose the brain are called the meninges and the function of the meninges is to protect the nervous system.

“The bacterial meningitis is caused by Neisseria meningitides of group A and it is the cause of 90 per cent of meningitis outbreak in the African Meningitis belt.”

On the possible signs and symptoms, she said they include fever, sudden onset of severe headache, and feeling of vomiting, child highly irritable, neck stiffness, convulsion and loss of consciousness.

“The meningitis bacteria are transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets, throat secretions or direct contact with infected people.

“Meningitis can be prevented by vaccination with meningococal vaccine; other methods of prevention include good personal hygiene, avoiding overcrowding, and exclusive breast feeding to build a child’s immunity,” she said.

Bilkisu Pai