How immunisation saved our children – Mothers

Children who have never been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting diseases such as measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors. Experts say that providing evidencebased information on immunisations will go a long way to remove doubts about vaccines as well as make them more widely acceptable, reports APPOLONIA ADEYEMI who conducted a field trip in some Ogun State communities

Accessing healthcare at the Family Health Clinic at Oke-Ilewo in Abeokuta South Local Government Area, is the delight of most women within the vicinity of the facility. The major reason for this attraction happens to the availability of needed healthcare products and services that are always available at the centre. Perhaps this is what warranted the joyous mood of the majority of women who visited the health facility on that fateful day to enable their children access immunisation services.

As early as 730a.m. the spacious hall which serves as patients’ waiting area at the Family Health Clinic, Oke-Ilewo had become filled; every available seat was occupied by mostly mothers who brought their children to keep earlier booked immunisation appointments, geared to tackle childhood diseases. While some mothers breastfed their babies as young as three months old to pacify them while they waited for the clock to strike 8am, the official resumption of official engagements, others rocked theirs while playing with them as the time ticked by.

At exactly 8.20a.m, a female staff called out names of the babies who were on appointment to be immunised. In an investigation, the ‘New Telegraph’ interacted with some of the mothers to find out why the immunisation exercise was a priority for them, prompting their presence with their babies at the health centre. For 30-year-old Mrs Abiola Taiwo who resides in Olorunsogo in Idere, Abeokuta, it was an exciting and fulfilling experience to bring her three-month old daughter, Tehila for measles vaccination. She disclosed that Tehila was delivered nine years after her first child.

“The measles vaccine she was given at the Family Health Clinic at Oke-Ilewo to access on that day was aimed to prevent her from contracting infections and diseases. So I don’t miss her immunisation appointments, Mrs Taiwo enthused, adding that even her first child too accessed all the prescribed vaccines. On what Taiwo saw in her first child that encouraged her to keep the immunisation appointments of her second child so far, she said after her first child accessed all the recommended vaccinations, “She grew up well and her growth and development was devoid of ailments. “Although, she lives with sickle cell anemia, I didn’t know at first but I thank God that she was properly vaccinated. “Among her peers that have the same genotype, she stands out healthwise. In fact if you see her you will not know that she is living with sickle cell anemia.

“She grew up properly; her stature is normal. And when other children have measles, she never had measles despite living with sickle cell anemia”. Taiwo however advised other mothers to ensure that their children get vaccinated. While explaining that not even her business engagement would prevent her from bringing Tehila for immunisation, Taiwo said she was happy for keeping up with this particular responsibility. She said, “I am also a business woman but I closed my shop to come and vaccinate my daughter. We should not, because of money, make a statement that we are not going to bring our children to health centre for vaccination.”

She therefore urged mothers to create time to get their children vaccinated so that it can prevent diseases for them while paving the way for their proper growth. According to her, when children fall sick, it reduces their ability to think well, adding, every child has the right to be vaccinated. Taiwo disclosed that she got good lessons about immunisation from her mother.

“My mother vaccinated all of us during our childhood years while we were growing up. I could see the effects that we were vaccinated. So that was where I got the idea about immunisation from initially. “Besides, I studied Microbiology; so I understand the essence of being vaccinated.” Immunisation is a process of administration (injecting) of vaccine into a healthy person in order to develop immunity against a disease. Immunity means the ability of a body to recognise, destroy and eliminate external disease causing agents.

A child’s immune system needs help to fight diseases including Asthma, Pneumonia, Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis, Chickenpox, Cholera, among others. However, immunisation gives protection against some infectious diseases. Vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies that fight infection. Immunisation is also known as ‘vaccination’, ‘jab’ or ‘injection’. Similarly, recounting her experience about meeting the immunisation appointments of her third baby that she brought to the Oke- Ilewo Family Health Clinic, Mrs. Olubamiro told the ‘New Telegraph,’ “I am here for immunisation of my baby, Testimony who is five months plus.

“The one today makes it the fifth and he’s getting the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).” On why she brought the child, Olubamiro said, “I know that immunisation helps a lot with the body system and that is why I make sure that all my children get immunised. Explaining why she has ensured her son hasn’t missed any of the recommended jab, Olubamiro whose older children are seven years old and two years plus, said, “Immunisation works very well with a kid’s body system. It helps them not to have many illnesses.

On how the children have fared with their health so far after being immunised, she said, “Their wellbeing is okay. I cannot recall a time when they were sick except maybe from mosquito bites. I love giving them the complete immunisation,” adding, “I will complete Testimony’s dose .”

While Taiwo and Olubamiro, both of whom demonstrated zeal and commitment with their children’s immunisations are happy for the wellbeing of their kids, the same cannot be said about Idowu, 12, who suffered vision loss after a bout of measles at the age of seven years. Mrs Aderinola Coker who is Idowu’s mother and a resident of Ibafo in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area (LGA) told the ‘New Telegraph’ that Idowu was delivered at home years back and has never been given any immunisation till date. Idowu is certainly among the 20 million kids who miss immunisation worldwide annually. According to a statement from the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) issued during the 2021 World Immunisation Week (WIW) which held from 24-30 April, last year, the objective of the WIW is to stimulate greater engagement around immunisation globally to promote the importance of vaccination in bringing people together, and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

“Yet, there are still nearly 20 million children in the world today who are not getting the vaccines they need, and many who miss out on vital vaccines during adolescence, adulthood and into old age.” Highlighting the situation in Nigeria, UNICEF in 2018 stated that 4.3 million children in Nigeria still miss out on vaccinations every year. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17 shows that only one in four chilsdren in the country receive all the recommended vaccines.

Immunisation coverage for pentavalent vaccine between the 36 states varies dramatically from 80 per cent in Lagos to three per cent in Sokoto and is still below the recommended global goal of 90 per cent in all of them. Children who have never been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors. This is certainly the lot of Idowu who suffered vision loss and is consequently disabled. Fortunately, such situation is preventable, said Dr. Juliet Onyecherelam, a public health physician. Highlighting some factors that inhibit some parents and caregivers from presenting their children for immunisation, Onyecherelam said some parents live in hard-to-reach areas.

“They may need more resources to get to the immunisation center and most of them belong to the lower financial class and they just want money to eat. “There is also the factor of inadequate facilities in some centers. Some centers do not have enough seats to make mothers comfortable. Such a mother might not want to go and suffer herself.

“There is also a lack of information regarding vaccination. They don’t know why they have to vaccinate their children; they don’t know the diseases that they are trying to prevent. Even if they know all these, they may not know the timing for the vaccination.

They might not be told at the center where they put them to bed; some of them do not know that they have to vaccinate their child at birth or six weeks after. If they don’t get that information, they may not come back for the subsequent vaccinations.”

There is also the absence of enough caregivers. Some health personnel treat mothers badly. Onyecherelam attributed major factors driving rejection of immunisation to misinformation. “We have anti-vaccination communities on the social media; they can cause fear and anxiety because of the misinformation they dish out.

“Some caregivers may also have concerns about the about the side effects of certain vaccines.” She said the solution is providing evidence- based information on immunisation and using influential personalities to disseminate the information. On his part, a Professor of Community Medicine, Bayo Onajole who is an epidemiologist and public health physician, said analysis has shown in the last 15 years that immunisation has drastically reduced mortality from vaccine-preventive diseases such as TB, poliomyelitis, tetanus. Evidence shows that if you are immunised your chances of survival are high, said Onajole.

Vaccines for 0 to 9 months
1. BCG – one dose at age 0 to 2 weeks
2. Oral Polio Vaccine – 4 doses (At birth, 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks )
3. Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) – Given at 6 weeks and 14 weeks
4. Hepatitis B Vaccine – One dose at birth and 3 more doses combined with 4 other
antigens as pentavalent vaccine
-Pentavalent (Diphtheria Pertusis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza
type b) vaccine. – 3 doses at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks
5. Rotavirus Vaccine – 2 doses ( Given at 6 weeks and 10 weeks )
6. Pneumococcal Vaccine – 3 doses (Given age 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
7. Measels – first dose at age 9 months and 2nd dose at 15 months
8. Yellow Fever Vaccine – Given 9 months
9. Meningitis Vaccine- Given at 9 months
10. Vitamin A supplement – first dose given at age 6 months

Leave a Reply