By Ibrahim Muhammad Kano
Kano State Ministry of Health has vehemently debunked rumours doubting the safety of diphtheria vaccine in the vaccination exercise being carried out in the state.
In an exclusive interview with a journalist the Hon. Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abubakar Labaran Yusuf said the claim by some people that the vaccine is unsafe is untrue due to noticeable lacunas in their assertion.
Dr. Labaran is reacting to an audio clip that is going viral these days in which some women were quoted to have attributed diphtheria vaccine with harmfulness so much that, as they alleged, has caused their children to develop kidney complication.
He said in the first place, one of the complainers explained that she was 23 years of age and was vaccinated which not true because the vaccine is not meant for adults, it is for children between 14 years and below.
Secondly, according to the Commissioner, the vaccines givers don’t go to the playgrounds, as mentioned by one of those women, to vaccinate the children; they were rather stationed in fixed-posts where people bring their children to get vaccinated.
“For these two reasons, I am very much believed that what the women were saying was entirely false. However, it is possible for a person vaccinated with any vaccine to have mild headache and fever. Diphtheria vaccine may cause pain and swelling at the side of the injection, fever, headache and sometimes body weakness. Even this is very transient. It hardly lasts more than 24 hours”, he clarified.
He revealed that he has investigated the matter and found that those children have severe malaria at the time they were allegedly vaccinated, adding that investigations showed that their parents have taken them to health facilities for medical attention.
“People need to understand that malaria causes severe anaemia. Part of malaria life-cycle resides within the red blood cells. At the time of its maturity, it bursts and breaks the cells. If many cells were affected at the same time, many of them would be destroyed and the person may get anaemia and even require blood transfusion.
“People should get to know that malaria affects kidney. Severe malaria can cause renal failure, but not the diphtheria vaccine if ever a person is vaccinated with. We have given over two million doses of vaccines and we have never received a report of serious side effects of the vaccine”, Dr. Labaran emphasized.
He then reminded the public that diphtheria vaccine has been in circulation for decades because it is the same vaccine children are receiving for several years, pointing out that what happens now is the upsurge of diphtheria in Kano where a lot of vaccines were brought to the state to lessen and curb the spread.
The Commissioner also reminded people that initially the vaccine is called DPT and now it is popularly known as Penta being given to the children of even less than one year, stressing that any person in Kano state that has been fully vaccinated when he/she was a child must have received three doses of DPT/Penta vaccine.
“Let me use this opportunity to inform the public that we had problem with routine immunization in the state. The then Kano state government hasn’t immunize our children for 18-19 months. That is the main reason for the upsurge we are seeing nowadays in Kano.
“Had it been that those children are adequately vaccinated in the last 18 months, we wouldn’t have the problem we are having now. That is why 80% of all burden of diphtheria cases in the country is in Kano state.