Nigeria inaugurates massive immunisation campaign against yellow fever

by Rachel Ogbu

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It was a major outrage last year when about 125 Nigerians including a Senator were refused entry into South Africa over yellow fever cards. Yesterday, February 25, the Federal Government inaugurated its own ‘Yellow Fever Card’ with plans for a mass vaccination of Nigerians against yellow fever in May.

The Minister of Health, Onyewuchi Chukwu, during the introduction of a new International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis (Yellow Card) said:

“I am glad to inform this gathering that the Federal Ministry of Health has come up with the new International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis (Yellow Card) with an enhanced security feature. This, I believe, will put an end to the issue of fake yellow cards’ issued from  sources and the embarrassment it had caused Nigeria all over the world.

“In May, we are going to commence mass vaccination of Nigerians against yellow fever in the country and at the borders. This is another great milestone for the health sector.”

The South Africans probably had reason to worry. Last year, consultant epidemiologist at the Federal Ministry of Health, Akin Oyemakinde, warned of a likely outbreak of yellow fever, possibly of a much higher severity than it had been reported in Nigeria. Also executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Ado Muhammad, was worried that Nigeria was one of the yellow fever endemic countries, and emphasised the need for mass vaccination campaign in the country. He expressed his concerns on a letter to Chukwu.

The minister said the large-scale vaccination and administration of the Yellow Fever Card was in line with the decisions reached at the 55th National Council of Health meeting.

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