Experts Call for More Adult Vaccination

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A young woman receiving an immunisation from a nurse. Image Source: Judy Schmidt

A pulmonologist and consultant public health physician, Prof. Olufunke Adeyeye, says pneumococcal disease is not getting required attention, in spite the challenges arising from the disease burden.

Adeyeye, Professor of Medicine at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Ikeja, said this during a virtual meeting on Adult Vaccination on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised by Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Company.

Pneumococcal diseases are bacterial infections caused by ‘Streptococcus pneumoniae’ and can affect the lungs and other parts of the body.

It is a leading cause of severe illnesses globally, with the infection causing pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infection (sepsis).

Adeyeye noted that pneumococcal diseases are public health concerns globally and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.

She said that a World Health Organisation (WHO) data revealed that 10 countries in Africa and Asia were among those with the highest numbers of pneumococcal infection globally.

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The professor noted that the data showed that Nigeria accounts for five per cent of the total burden, holding a third place after India and China.

According to her, the population of Nigerians affected with pneumococcal disease is worrisome, noting that the infection leads to hospitalisation which has a significant economic impact on the patients.

She asserted that the disease could result in meningitis, noting that eight out of nine persons that have meningitis arising from bacterial pneumococcal die from the infection.

Adeyeye said that significant proportion of mortality from pneumococcal disease occurs among the elderly, especially those with co-morbidities, noting that preventive measures through pneumococcal vaccination in adults should be intensified.

She noted that vaccines are readily available, noting, however, that data, funding, adequate awareness and mobilisation should be intensified to enhance vaccine uptake.

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The professor also stressed the need to erase the notion that vaccines were for children and pregnant women, noting that vaccines are important strategy that prevents people from being sick.

Also, Dr Ogugua Osiogbu, a Consultant Physician, said that adult vaccination was crucial and should be up-to-date, noting that immunity from childhood vaccines could wear off over time.

Osiogbu, Head of Geriatrics Unit, National Hospital, Abuja, said that vaccination reduces the incidence of disease among populations and the social and economic burden of the disease on communities.

“Every year, thousands of adults in Nigeria become severely ill and are hospitalised because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent.

“Many adults even die from these diseases. It is harrowing when I see young Nigerians die from liver disease which could be prevented through Hepatitis B vaccine.

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“By getting vaccinated, a lot of people can help protect themselves from much of this unnecessary suffering,” she said.

She listed some adult vaccines to include Hepatitis A and B vaccines, Tetanus vaccine, Meningitis vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Human Papillomavirus Vaccine, among others.

According to her, vaccination is one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures against diseases.

She appealed to the three levels of government to evolve strategies that would bridge adult vaccination gaps by resolving issues of vaccine affordability to encourage more adults take the vaccine.

According to her, this can be done through a national immunisation programme for adults, or coverage of the vaccination through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Osiogbu noted that mass vaccination was pivotal to achieve Sustainable Development Goal three, reduce unnecessary hospitalisation and assist population live longer and healthier life. (NAN)

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