Health officials in eastern Nigeria say they have started to administer polio vaccines to children at military checkpoints in an attempt to stop the spread of the crippling disease. Abdullahi Hammandikko, a vaccination team leader in Taraba state, says up to 80 children are being vaccinated per day at one of the checkpoints.
Nigeria was declared polio-free last year, but two new cases were discovered last month among refugees in areas recently reclaimed from the extremist group Boko Haram. A third case was confirmed this month.
Officials have noted scattered resistance to the vaccinations by some parents, but Hammandikko says those stopped at checkpoints are cooperating. Dr. Innocent Vakai, Taraba’s health commissioner, says anyone refusing the vaccination could be asked to leave the state.
According to WHO, genetic sequencing of the viruses suggests that the new cases are most closely linked to a wild poliovirus strain last detected in Borno in 2011. Low-level transmission of the poliovirus is expected, particularly in areas where it is difficult to reach children with the vaccine. Subnational surveillance gaps persist in some areas of Borno, as well as in areas of neighbouring countries.