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Pentavalent Vaccine Remains Most Effective Protection Against Diphtheria – NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says the most effective protection against diphtheria is vaccination with the Pentavalent or Tetanus-Diphtheria vaccine.

According to the NCDC, the Federal Government is providing free, safe, and effective vaccines at all Primary Healthcare Centres nationwide to ensure that the disease is contained.

The centre said diphtheria, caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, is a vaccine-preventable disease, which is covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.

NCDC in the information provided on its official website noted that a historical gap in vaccination coverage is a driver of the outbreak given the most affected age group – five and 14 years.

According to the NCDC, since the confirmation of the re-emergence of diphtheria in December 2022, the Federal Government, through the NCDC and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, has continued to respond to diphtheria outbreaks in different states across the country.

Read Also: Diphtheria: Organisation Deploys Health Experts In Worst Hit States

The agency lamented that the results of the nationwide diphtheria immunity survey in the country show that only 42% of children under 15 years old are fully protected from diphtheria.

“As of September 24, 2023, there have been 11, 587 reported suspected cases out of which 7, 202 were confirmed cases from 105 Local Government Areas in 18 states, including the FCT. Most (6,185) of the confirmed cases were recorded in Kano.

“Other states with cases are Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (8), Lagos (8), FCT (5), Gombe (5), Osun (3), Sokoto (3), Niger (2), Cross River (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1) and Zamfara (1).

“The 5, 299 (73.6%) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged one to 14 years with those aged five to 14 years bearing most of the brunt of the disease. So far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases giving a case fatality rate of 6.3%,” the agency stated.

Also, given the escalation of the outbreak and findings that 80% of confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak are unvaccinated, the Coordinating Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health and State Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, set up a national emergency task team co-chaired by the Executive Director of the NPHCDA and the DG of NCDC for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts.