The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says Nigeria tops the list of unvaccinated children across the world, making the country among the 20 sub-Saharan countries with children not vaccinated for measles.
A statement issued by Geoffrey Njoku, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, noted that Nigeria has the highest number of children under one year, who missed out on the first dose of the vaccine.
According to the statement, Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF boss, said: “In low- and middle-income countries, the situation is critical. In 2017, for example, Nigeria had the highest number of children under one year of age who missed out on the first dose at nearly 4 million. It was followed by India (2.9 million), Pakistan and Indonesia (1.2 million each), and Ethiopia (1.1 million).
“Worldwide coverage levels of the second dose of the measles vaccines are even more alarming. Of the top 20 countries with the largest number of unvaccinated children in 2017, nine have not introduced the second dose.
“Twenty-countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not introduced the necessary second dose in the national vaccination schedule, putting over 17 million infants a year at higher risk of measles during their childhood.”
Noting that UNICEF, alongside partners like the Measles and Rubella Initiative and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, are working on ways measles can be eradicated by making vaccine affordable, the statement added that assistance is being provided to countries to take note of underserved areas and unreached children; procuring vaccines and other immunization supplies; supporting supplementary vaccination campaigns to address gaps in routine immunization coverage; working with relevant countries to introduce the second dose of the measles vaccine in the national immunization schedule.
Fore said: “Cameroon, Liberia and Nigeria are on track to do so in 2019; introducing innovations like the use of solar power and mobile technologies to maintain vaccines at the right temperature.
“The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child in rich and poor countries alike.
“Measles is far too contagious. It is critical not only to increase coverage but also to sustain vaccination rates at the right doses to create an umbrella of immunity for everyone.”