2022 AVW: Nigeria Rolls Out Rotavirus Vaccines To Protect Children

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The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

The Federal Government has rolled out rotavirus vaccines to make the 2022 African Vaccination Week (AVW). 

The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib at the official national flag-off on Monday in Abuja, said that rotavirus is one of the leading causes of diarrheal diseases in the world and is responsible for over 40 per cent of diarrhoea in children. 

Science Nigeria reports that AVW addresses the importance of immunisation in saving lives and encouraging families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases. 

The AVW 2022 campaign aims to draw attention to the need to attain universal immunisation coverage in the African regions by closing the immunisation gap. 

Shuaib said that it was the most frequent cause of severe diarrhoea, accounting for about 215,000 of the global 525,000 under-5 mortality attributed to diarrheal diseases each year.  

“Nigeria has the second highest number of deaths from rotavirus, accounting for 14 per cent of all childhood rotavirus deaths worldwide. 

“Annually, approximately 50,000 deaths occur in children under five years in Nigeria as a result of rotavirus infection,” he disclosed.  

The NPHCDA boss said that the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine is a big investment due to its substantial economic impact and the number of lives that the country is going to save from the introduction. 

 “It is projected that while reducing the associated morbidity and mortality from the rotavirus infections, the rotavirus vaccine introduction has the potential to avert over 110,000 deaths over 10 years. 

“This vaccine is going to be given orally and will be administered concurrently with the existing routine immunisation (RI) vaccines at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks, respectively.  

“The vaccine will be integrated with other diarrheal preventive strategies, such as exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, Vitamin A supplementation, handwashing, sanitation and other key household practices, case management including the use of zinc-ORS to prevent dehydration, continued feeding and treatment services for diarrhoea and other childhood diseases,” he said. 

He, however, called on parents and caregivers to take their eligible children to the nearest primary health care centre for this important vaccine and other routine vaccines that were in the system until their children are fully vaccinated. 

“Rotavirus vaccine is free, safe and effective at preventing diarrheal disease caused by the rotavirus,” he said. 

Recall that the rotavirus is an oral vaccine against rotavirus infection that is given to babies as part of their routine childhood vaccinations.

The vaccine is given in two doses, four weeks apart. Usually, the first dose is given at eight weeks, and the second dose at 12 weeks. The vaccine is given as a liquid straight into the baby’s mouth for them to swallow. 

The rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that typically affects babies and young children, causing diarrhoea and vomiting tummy ache and a high temperature. 

Most children recover at home within a week. But some children may need to see a doctor. Occasionally, treatment in the hospital is needed for complications such as severe dehydration. 

A baby needs 2 rotavirus vaccinations at least four weeks apart to be fully protected. If they miss the first dose, they can have it for up to 15 weeks. If they miss the second dose, they can have it for up to 24 weeks. 

The rotavirus vaccine contains a weakened version of rotavirus. This helps the child to build up immunity so that the next time they come into contact with rotavirus they will not get the infection. 

According to health experts, the rotavirus vaccine is very effective and gives good protection against rotavirus infection and it’s possible for a baby to get rotavirus infection after being vaccinated. But this is uncommon and it’s usually milder than it would have been if they had not been vaccinated. 

The side effects of the rotavirus vaccine, most babies do not have any problems at all after having their rotavirus vaccination. 

Some babies who have the vaccine may become restless and irritable, and some may develop mild diarrhoea in the days following vaccination. 

Very rarely, the vaccine could cause severe allergic reaction anaphylaxis or a blockage in a baby’s intestine (intussusception). 

Meanwhile, the launch is coinciding with the flag-off of the AVW which is a weeklong affair that improves access to basic Primary Health Care Services, routine immunisation, COVID-19 vaccination, deworming and Vitamin A supplementation, medical outreach services to our teaming rural populations.

The 2022 theme “Long Life for All”, aims to unify people around the idea that vaccines make it possible for us to follow our dreams, protect our loved ones and live a long, healthy life. 

The AVW is supported by the World Health Organisation and a wide range of partners, including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many more.

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