Some communities in Jos North Local Government of Plateau have refused to participate in the ongoing immunisation exercise against polio, citing hunger as their reason.
“The communities have shunned entreaties by the immunisation officers; they say the vaccine should be replaced with food,” Mrs. Hannatu Davat, a local immunisation officer, told the News Agency of Nigeria, in Jos on Monday.
The immunisation exercise, which began on January 28, is co-sponsored by the local government and the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Nigerian Rotary Club.
The four-day exercise, targeted at children below five years, was meant to vaccinate children against polio and other killer diseases, including hepatitis, measles, yellow fever and tetanus.
Davat said the parents, who rejected the vaccine, asked government to rather work toward slashing the prices of food items.
She said that other residents, who refused to participate, claimed that they had collected too many rounds of the vaccination, while others described the vaccines as “’western medicine”.
The officer further said that even doctors rejected the vaccines on the grounds that government was paying too much attention to polio while neglecting other serious diseases.
“The local government has reported the development to the Plateau chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, which have promised to ensure that no doctor rejects any polio vaccines meant for children.
“One of the doctors mentioned mumps as one of the diseases being neglected, and described it as a serious disease which government hardly worried about.”
Davat said the local government had set up a social mobilisation team that was moving through affected communities to sensitise them on the importance of taking the vaccines.
“Based on such efforts, some of the communities have changed their initial stance and are ready to bring their children, but others have remained adamant,” she said.