The Arch Bishop of Abuja Diocese of Catholic Church of Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has appealed to Nigerians to take full advantage of free immunization services provided by the Federal Government to immunize their children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Cardinal Onaiyekan made the appeal in Abuja during a courtesy visit paid to him by a high powered Federal Government delegation led by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
Cardinal Onaiyekan emphasized that all parents, guardians and care givers should make their children available for immunization, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity and region. According to him, immunization is safe and effective in protecting the children against vaccine preventable diseases. Cardinal Onaiyekan warned Nigerians against those who are behind the false information linking monkey pox with immunization. He further stressed that nobody should believe such unpatriotic elements, because immunization remains the best public health intervention to protect children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the Federal Government delegation and Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said the purpose of the visit was to solicit the Cardinal’s intervention in assuring Nigerians of the safety, potency and effectiveness of the vaccines that are used to immunize Nigerian children. This visit also followed the reported rejection of immunization in some parts of the country.
Dr. Shuaib who was represented by the Director, Disease Control and Immunization of the NPHCDA, Dr. Dorothy Nwodo emphasized that immunization had no connection whatsoever with monkey pox. He explained that the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) certify that all the vaccines used to immunize Nigerian children are safe, before they are distributed for public use. He also highlighted steps already taken by the Honourable Minister of Health and other stakeholders to assure Nigerians of the safety and efficacy of the Nigerian Immunization Programme.
Dr. Shuaib announced that in addition to the vaccination campaign against yellow fever, which is currently going on in Kogi and Kwara States, a National Immunization Campaign against Measles disease will commence soon. He is therefore making an ardent call to all Nigerians to immunize their children who are within the age range of 9 to 59 months, against the measles disease.
The delegation was made up of top officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), WHO, UNICEF and International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC).