As school pupils resume from holiday, it is imperative that school entry immunization should be made a prerequisite for school enrolment at day care centers, kindergarten and nursery classes in both private and public schools to protect children, staff and visitors against vaccine preventable diseases.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary, Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (EDSPHCDA) Dr. Mrs. Erhabor Osarenokemen Julie during the workshop training on the role of school health programme in child health organized by the Institute of Child Health , University of the Benin Teaching Hospital in collaboration with EDSPHCDA .
According to her, “herd immunity is present in a school when a high percentage of its students have been immunized from a particular disease such that the disease cannot gain a foothold in the school. Achieving and maintaining herd immunity protects not only those who have been vaccinated, but also those with weak immune systems such as infants and toddlers”.
She noted that immunization is the safest way of protecting children from childhood infectious diseases and it helps control the spread of communicable diseases and for this reason it is very important that parents stay up to date with current Nigerian immunization schedule.
“According to Federal Ministry of Health, a child is considered immunized if he has received a Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination against tuberculosis, at least 3 doses of Diphtheria, Pertussis or Whooping cough and Tetanus (DPT) to prevent polio and two dose of measles vaccines. The Proprietors/ Proprietress have a duty to ensure that all children in their crèche/pre-school have complete immunization appropriate to their age to admission to the school,” she added.
The Director, Institute of Child health,University of Benin/University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Dr. Damian Nwaneri said vaccine preventable diseases are avoidable causes of under five morbidity and mortality, adding that vaccine preventable diseases represents the commonest cause of mortality in under-fives.
“In Nigeria, immunization coverage remains suboptimal with 19 percent of 12-23 month olds being unimmunized and only 31 percent being completely immunized. These figures show that in addition to those not immunized, a significant proportion are incompletely immunized and may in fact be susceptible to target diseases.
“There is no catch up schedule for children who miss out on their primary immunization. However, the National programme on immunization (NPI) which is responsible for administering the immunization programme has recently included plans for tracking children who miss immunization appointments. The school is one of the major tools for tracking immunization and identifying children who missed out on their immunization.
“Now that schools are about to resume, the Institute of Child Health of Benin Teaching Hospital in collaboration with Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency put a workshop for proprietors/ proprietresses, teachers and caregivers in kindergartens( catchment for children under the age of five years.
“Objective of the workshop is to equip these stakeholders with the appropriate information on how to set up and manage kindergartens, appropriate psychological assessment and management of the children and to identify children who have missed their immunization in view to provide necessary platform to improve on their immunization,” he added.
The chairman of the event was Prof Charles Eregie, Professor of Child Health and consultant Neonatologist UNIBEN/UBTH and other resource persons include Prof A Sadoh, Dr. A Atimati, Mrs. T Eyakwanor, and Dr G. Enato