I had a remarkable experience when I visited South Africa in 2006. At the airport in spite of our yellow cards, indicating that we had been vaccinated for yellow fever. Their immigration officials insisted that we must be re-vaccinated. Until I told them I was a medical doctor, and would not risk my health by entering another country unvaccinated. They reluctantly allowed me to cross, but insisted that others must be re-vaccinated. Yes, the report, according to immigration officials, was that most travelers, not only Nigerians, purchase their yellow fever vaccination cards at the airport. Which means that most travelers do not get vaccinated.
As at last week, yellow fever had spread to 27 States and still counting, but wait a minute, how could a disease which has a-ten-year minimum preventive vaccine, recurrently resurface in Nigeria. The vaccine is there in all Primary Health Care Centers, and is administered free of charge. Even as I write – Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has shouted itself hoarse, telling people what to do to prevent contracting yellow fever.
Imagine this headline in Premium Times of November 13, 2020 – “Three States report 76 deaths from yellow fever in 11 days “. The states according to NCDC were Bauchi, Delta and Enugu. Again on November 15, 2020 – same paper carried a headline “15% of people bitten by mosquito prone to toxic yellow fever “. Let me just calm down and state routinely what you must do to avoid contracting yellow fever.
How to avoid yellow fever – NCDC.
Yellow fever is a vaccine preventable disease, and a single shot provides immunity for a lifetime. Symptoms of the disease include, yellowness of the eyes, sudden fever, headache, and body pains.
The yellow fever vaccine is available for free in Primary Health Care Centers (PHCC) in Nigeria, as part of the national childhood routine immunization schedule.
The yellow fever virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. NCDC advices the public to take the following precautionary measures to reduce the risk of yellow fever infection.
Keep your environment clean and free of stagnant water to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
Use insecticide treated mosquito nets and install screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquito bites.
Avoid self – medication, visit a health facility immediately, if you feel ill and have symptoms such as fever.
Healthcare workers are reminded to maintain a high index of suspicion for yellow fever and covid-19 pandemic.
Please ensure your child is vaccinated against yellow fever as part of the national childhood immunization schedule. If you are unsure of your immunization status, please visit a health facility to receive a yellow fever vaccine.
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease caused by the yellow fever virus (arbovirus), which continues to cause severe morbidity and mortality on Nigeria.
Nigeria is implementing WHO’s EYE – Strategy “ eliminate yellow fever epidemics.
This was signed by Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu DG – NCDC.
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