While combatting multiple public health challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Nigeria, with support of the World Health Organization (WHO), CDC, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will safely relaunch an accelerated series of mass preventive vaccination campaigns to protect Nigerians against yellow fever (YF). To enable safe implementation in the COVID-19 context, personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced infection prevention control measures have been assured by a collaborative initiative and agile support of the State Ministries of Health, CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, and funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The accelerated yellow fever campaigns phase 4 will target more than 30 million people in 7 states (Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Delta, Osun, Ondo, and Oyo) and complete the pending 2019 phase 3 YF campaign in Anambra state. This will be followed by further YF vaccination efforts between 2021-2022, which will target more than 95 million persons as part of the push to eliminate yellow fever epidemics.
The 10-day YF campaign in Anambra is scheduled to kick off on the 16th of October while the phase 4 states are scheduled to start on the 20th of November 2020. These campaigns are to be implemented in accordance with the WHO guidelines for the implementation of mass campaigns in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. with the use of PPEs and infection prevention control strategies as recommended.
“While COVID-19 remains a pressing priority, we are pleased to be able to safely relaunch life-protecting vaccination campaigns against yellow fever this week. Almost 30 million Nigerians will be protected for life from these campaigns in coming months – a remarkable achievement by our health care workers and communities,” stated Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). “We encourage all eligible persons in the state to come forward and get vaccinated. Yellow fever outbreaks have re-emerged as a serious public health concern since September 2017. The upcoming campaigns will help stop outbreaks and save lives.”
The 2020 campaigns represent an acceleration of the phased preventive mass vaccination campaign aimed to protect the country against yellow fever outbreaks. The acceleration has been endorsed by the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) by 2026. Nigeria is a priority country for the EYE Strategy. With support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, and other partners, Nigeria has updated its strategic elimination plan with the accelerated EYE strategic plan 2020-2023, aimed at completing nationwide vaccination by 2023 (instead of 2025 as initially planned), improve yellow fever diagnosis capacity, routine childhood immunization coverage and overall population immunity in all states. Over the duration of the strategy, it is expected that almost 180 million Nigerians will be protected against yellow fever through accelerated phased preventive mass vaccination campaigns.
Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by infected mosquitos. The infection can cause serious disease, including fever and jaundice (yellowness of the eyes) and can even lead to death. The disease has re-emerged as a public health threat in recent decades, triggered by different factors such as climate change, increasing population movement and distribution of mosquito vectors. Outbreaks of yellow fever can spread rapidly in communities and cause devastating and deadly illness.
The yellow fever vaccine is highly effective and provides life-long protection. The vaccine has a long history of safety and effectiveness. Since 2016, more than 54 million Nigerians have been protected against yellow fever through mass vaccination and reactive campaigns.
“The Yellow fever vaccine confers lifelong protection and is the most effective tool to prevent outbreaks of this potentially deadly disease,” said Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi. “Gavi has been a long-time partner in this effort, and we arecommitted to continuing to support the Government of Nigeria and partners in their efforts to reach the millions, including children, who are at risk.”
The WHO Representative to Nigeria, Dr Kazadi Mulombo, said that “Through decisive and agile work by the WHO EPI and Health Emergency programmes, WHO has helped source and provide 265,000 face masks that will support safe implementation of life-saving yellow fever vaccination activities in the COVID-19 context in Anambra state. The technical support provided by WHO to National and State levels will ensure a high-quality campaign including planning, training of health care workers, supervision of the campaign and high vaccination coverage. WHO and partners are committed to ensuring that every person at-risk of yellow fever is protected.