The Lagos State Government says it has uncovered a plot by a non-governmental organisation by administering harmful vaccines to children to disrupt the ongoing polio vaccination in the state.
Dr. Jide Lawal, the Permanent Secretary, Primary Healthcare Board, made this known on Tuesday night in Lagos.
Lawal said the organisation, which he did not name, was going round schools in the state to administer vaccines believed to be harmful to children.
He said the state Ministry of Health had commenced investigation into the allegation.
According to him, the ministry suspected the sabotage was intended to disrupt the ongoing polio immunisation campaign.
Lawal said: “The move by the NGO is intended to thwart other efforts of the state government in maintaining 100 per cent immunisation coverage of eligible children as well as maintain the ‘polio free status’ attained since 2009.
“For the purpose of clarity, it is important to mention that safety of lives and wellbeing of citizens are of utmost importance to the state government and all efforts are geared toward protecting the citizenry.
“Hence, we wish to emphasise that oral polio vaccine is free, safe and effective in protecting children against polio.
“We will also like to assure you that the administration of this vaccine is not hazardous or dangerous to humans as being erroneously propagated.
“In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends that all children below the age of five years get this vaccine for protection against polio.”
Lawal said the benefits of receiving the polio vaccination and other scheduled immunisations were numerous.
He added: “Good health and survival of children have been associated with immunisation, because it reduces disability, morbidity and mortality.
“It also contributes to lowering the incidence of diseases and results in less frequent visits to health facilities.
“Immunisation remains the most cost-effective and efficient child survival strategy for children who are the future of the nation.
“Also, this informs our unrelenting efforts in protecting our children from the vaccine-preventable killer diseases.”
Lawal urged stakeholders, including parents, political and religious leaders, civil society organisations and mass media to ensure that children under five years were immunised free of charge.
He said: “This is to ensure that we reduce the risk of death and disability from vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio.”
He said the current vaccination campaign against polio was being conducted by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, state Ministry of Health and Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board.
According to him, this is in partnership with health development partners such as WHO, United Nations Children Fund, CDC-AFENET and Rotary.
Lawal said: “While the state collaborates with NGOs, the administration of vaccines is the sole responsibility of health workers trained to conduct the exercise.
“The public are, therefore, enjoined to be vigilant and authenticate the identity of immunisation officers.
“They should report any suspicion about the implementation of any of the state or national immunisation campaigns to the nearest local government, the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health or call 08023020581.”