By Suoyo Ekubo
Following the recent outbreak of a new variant of Polio virus in Nigeria, the Rivers State Primary Health Management Board (RSPHCMB) has taken measures to carry out its first round of the National Immunization Plus Days (NIPD) set aside to strengthen the fight against this new polio variant called the “circulating Variant Polio Virus” (cVPV2) in the State.
The Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board has scheduled the National Immunization Plus Days to run between September 16th-19th 2023, across all the Local Government Areas of the State.
Although, Nigeria was declared polio-free in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently has said that 51 cases of circulating Variant Polio Virus (cVPV2) have been detected in Nigeria between January and August 13 2023. WHO reported that 47 of the 51 cases (92 per cent) are from the North West, and majority of the cases are from states with security challenges in the region while one case has been recorded in Enugu State.
The immunization Plus Days will allow trained health workers to go from house to house, schools, churches, market places and everywhere children from 0‐5 years are found to immunize them with two drops of novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2). The vaccine is clinically tested and proven safe and effective to reduce circulation of cVPV2 type of polio virus.
Briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, of its plan to execute the National Immunization Plus Days in Rivers State to forestall any outbreak in the State, the State Health Educator of the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr Babbo Diana, revealed that the symptoms of the cVPV2 are weakness of the limbs hands and legs, that can cause paralysis in child who have not been immunized.
Dr Babbo Diana said;
“The national immunization plus day first round is happening in River State from 16th –19th of September 2023, we are targeting children 5 years and below. We are going to be in our health facilities and on the field house to house, we are going to give vaccines and mark children’s hands and houses. And the vaccine is going to confined immunity against cVPV2 and our children will be protected against this variant of polio.
“We have cases of paralysis from this variant and this Vaccines are specifically designed to reduce this particular variant and it has been clinically tested, it is safe and effective,” she said.
She advised caregivers, parents and families to prevent the virus by ensuring that their children are immunized, use clean water, hand and body hygiene and keep their environment clean.