Reports indicate that Kaduna state has received another batch of COVID-19 vaccines and that they are even being administered. Which category of individuals are eligible for the jab this time around?
We have received two batches of vaccines; 131,561 doses of Moderna and 25,512 does of AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca is for the people that have taken their first dose in the last round of the vaccination exercise but are yet to take their second dose. Moderna is a new batch, and it is for those who are yet to get any dose and it is for any person who is 18 years and above. But of course we want to encourage people that are elderly, and have other underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes or any immunocompromise disease as well as some frontline workers, health personnel and the like, who have not received the vaccine.
Does the Moderna vaccine also have side effects like AstraZeneca vaccine, where some people experienced dizziness and headaches when it was administered to them?
Most vaccines have these kinds of symptoms. Some may be non-specific like headache, fever, dizziness. All these symptoms show that one’s body is mounting an immune response against the virus. As you know, the COVID vaccines utilize a piece of the virus, to induce a response in the body, so that if someone gets the infection, the body can fight it. Yes, there are some side effects which are similar with the AstraZeneca vaccine. We started vaccination since last week Thursday (26th August), and so far we haven’t had any serious side effects reported.
Which facilities are legally allowed to administer the vaccines? Can one go to any Public Health Facility to get vaccinated?
The vaccination is taking place in 123 Public Health Facilities, all the General Hospitals and major Primary Healthcare Centres. We are deciding to expand, so that we will have vaccination centres in every ward. But as you know, we are getting the doses in batches, and we must be careful to prevent wastage. So, we are looking at the coverages within the areas, to deploy the vaccines when we get them. The vaccines are free and Moderna is also two doses; you take your first dose now and four weeks later, you will be due for the second dose. Once you are vaccinated, you are given a card that has your details. Your demographic details are captured and uploaded unto the server, so that when you come for the second dose, you will be captured as fully vaccinated.
Last year, Nigeria which was the most endemic country in Africa, recorded zero case of poliomyelitis in 2020. But in the last few weeks, Community Volunteers have been going round administering polio vaccines. Is there a resurgence of the virus?
We have no resurgence of poliomyelitis; what we have is vaccine-derived polio virus. It usually occurs where children are not fully vaccinated and so they don’t have immunity. So, when they get into contact with oral polio vaccine, they can get a form of poliomyelitis and may result to transient paralysis. What it shows is that we still have some work to do with our routine immunization drive.
The three local governments that had this vaccine-derived polio are Ikara, Lere and recently, Soba LGA. But we have mounted an outbreak response across the whole state. We wanted to make sure that all places where children have not been immunized will be covered. And that was why you saw Community Volunteers going house to house. The second round of the Outbreak response would be from 9th to 14th September 2021. We would also have about two more before the year runs out. We call on the general public to please cooperate with them and present all children under five years old to be immunized.
In explaining to a layman, what will you say is the difference between poliomyelitis and vaccine-derived polio?
So, like I explained, the vaccine-derived polio usually occurs in children that have not received routine vaccination. So, when the vaccine, which is a weakened form of the virus gets excreted in faeces of a previously immunized child where it has undergone a mutation or change in its genetic make-up. This mutated virus can now induce an illness in an unimmunized child. A fully immunized child will not be affected by the mutated virus. That is why we are encouraging that children under five should be vaccinated when Community Volunteers are making the rounds. The vaccine will build their immunity and make them stronger and protect them against vaccine preventable diseases.
Are there non-pharmaceutical measures that people can take so as to ward off poliomyelitis, apart from getting vaccinated?
Vaccine-derived polio can be prevented using the same measures that we have been talking about in the case of preventing Covid-19. Polio is also a virus and it is transmitted in feces. So, if there is poor environmental sanitation, or unsafe water sources, polio can be transmitted through them. So, it is very important that people maintain the highest form of personal hygiene. They should wash their hands often, especially before meals and after using the toilet. They should wash their hands even after they have been outdoors for a while and touched a lot of things. People should also dispose fecal matter in a safe way, which means that they shouldn’t practice open defecation and use latrines. The Water and Sanitation Programme of RUWASSA is aiming to eliminate open defecation, by providing boreholes for safe water sources and sanitation facilities. The programme also teaches communities how to dig latrines and how to protect their wells. Presently, there is a lot of rain and places are being flooded. So, if wells and water sources are not well protected, when it rains all the dirt washes away the open defecation and contaminates the open wells. If you are not sure of your water source, filter and boil it first, allow it to cool before use.
Cholera is another personal hygiene-related disease whose outbreak has caused a lot of fatalities. How prevalent is it in Kaduna state?
We started having the first cases of cholera in late April and the beginning of May. This is the season of the disease because it usually occurs when the rain starts. Like I just explained, when the rain starts, water sources get contaminated. We have been tracking that, we have been managing cases. We have 1,868 cases, over 900 have been treated and discharged. Regrettably we have had fatalities, a total of 148 deaths most of which were reported after they occurred. We now have 20 local governments that are affected
The infections affected the LGAs at different times so, we have been working collaboratively with Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA), Ministry of Environment, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Ministry of Health and the Primary Healthcare Agency and the Local Government Health Authorities to manage these cases.
We have been engaging communities on the measures that they should take. We have chlorinated wells and we have been distributing chlorine tablets to communities to ensure that they have safe drinking water. This has improved our management of cases but in the last couple of weeks with the increased volume of rains that we have experienced, we noticed an uptick in cases, and we are working hard to ensure that we reduce morbidities and mortalities due to cholera.
-Kaduna state has received two batches of Covid-19 vaccines; 131,561 doses of Moderna and 25,512 doses of AstraZenneca;
-The AstraZenneca vaccine is for those that have taken their first dose in the last round of the vaccination exercise but are yet to take their second dose;
– Moderna is a new batch and it is for those who are yet to get any dose and are 18 years and above;
-The elderly and people with other underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes or any immunocompromise disease as well as some frontline workers, health personnel who have not received the vaccine, are encouraged to get vaccinated;
-Like Astra Zenecca, non-specific side effects like headache, fever, dizziness may be experienced after receiving the vaccine;
-No serious side effects have been reported since vaccination started on 26th August;
-Vaccination is taking place in 123 Public Health Facillities, including all the General Hospitals and major Primary Healthcare Centres. It is free;
-Arrangements are being made for expansion, so that vaccination will take place in every ward.