Vaccine-preventable diseases are those diseases that can be prevented by taking a vaccine. A vaccine is a substance that boosts the body’s immunity against a disease. Taking a vaccine would help protect a person from getting the disease. Here in Nigeria, most vaccines are usually administered a few weeks or months after birth to help keep the child healthy.
Most diseases that are vaccine-preventable usually result in death in most cases, as some do not even have treatment. Not all diseases can be prevented by a vaccine, however, and in such cases, there are usually treatments one can take to treat or cure the disease.
In today’s post, we will be looking at some vaccine-preventable diseases here in Nigeria.
Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is a disease that commonly affects young children. Caused by the poliovirus, the disease often causes the spinal cord and brainstem paralysis, which is irreversible and can result in death in severe cases. The disease is often transmitted by coming in contact with the faecal matter of a sick person. It enters through the nose or mouth, before making its way to the digestive system, from where it then enters the bloodstream, where it makes its way to attack the nervous system.
In 2020, Nigeria was the last African country to be declared polio-free. This was a result of intensified efforts geared toward the vaccine drive. Vaccines had to be administered to children below the age of 5, sometimes coming just a few months after birth.
Measles is another fatal disease that commonly affects young children. It is caused by coming in contact with someone with the disease, often through droplets from the person’s mouth or nose. Measles has a high transmission rate, affecting as much as 90% of people who come in contact with an infected person. Symptoms of the disease could start showing within 7 – 14 days after contracting it. Some common symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, and skin rash.
In 2021, Nigeria reported about 6,700 cases of measles, which resulted in 87 deaths.
The good news is that it can be prevented by a vaccine, which is usually administered to young children. Older children and adults can also get the vaccine if they are at risk of contracting the disease. A study showed that a significant number of children in Nigeria have not been vaccinated against measles.
3. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a disease that affects the liver, often leading to liver cancer and even death. Caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HPV), it can be transmitted from mother to child, during pregnancy, and also through unprotected sex. Sharing needles and blades, and using unsterilised objects like syringes or tattoo pens also increases the risk of contracting the disease.
Some common symptoms of the disease include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, and fatigue. While there is no current treatment for the virus, there is an effective vaccine for it.
4. Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a disease that is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can be found in Nigeria. One extreme symptom of the disease is the yellowing of the skin (jaundice), which is where it gets its name from. Other common symptoms of the disease include fever, nausea, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, etc.
There is currently no treatment for the disease, but there is a vaccine, commonly administered at birth that can offer life-long protection against the disease. Travellers into Nigeria are often advised to get vaccinated before travelling to protect themselves from the disease. You can find out other vaccines to take before travelling to Nigeria.
Meningitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation’s proximity to the brain and spinal cord.
Studies have shown that meningitis is one of the most prevalent diseases in Nigeria. Meningitis cases have been found to occur frequently in Nigeria, with an observed increase during the dry season.
Nonetheless, meningitis is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases in Nigeria. Meningococcal vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent infection by Neisseria meningitidis. The CDC recommends that children and adults take the vaccine.
Other Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Nigeria:
- Typhoid fever
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Dengue fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis E
- Human papillomavirus infection.