Concerns on regular earth tremors, vaccine safety persist

*Nov 1 episode in Abuja was weak, not strong to cause any damage to structures, says NASRDA
*Immunisation against preventable diseases in Nigeria remains free, safe, says NPHCDA

Experts have reassured Nigerians over regular earth tremors in Abuja as well as the rising cases of vaccine rejection in the United States (U.S.) and some parts of Europe.

Concerns over possible earthquake in Nigeria were heightened by the most recent episode on November 1, 2018, in Abuja. An earlier event on September 5 that lasted for three days in Mpape and some parts of Maitama district in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) left not only residents, but also the whole country apprehensive that an earthquake was about to occur.

Nigerian scientists at the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) had warned that Nigeria should be prepared for earthquake experience, which should set the authorities thinking and planning now.

The predicted date of 20 years from 2008 of an earthquake occurrence in Nigeria is not far, as signs have started emerging through the Abuja earth tremor.

Although, the Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria’s Federal capital territory, Abuja, confirmed the reports of the earth tremor in the affected areas, it suggested it could have come from the movement of the earth or that it could be by the blasting of rocks or mining in the area, while it urged residents to stay calm and hide under tables if inside the house or stay away from buildings if outdoor.

Since the late 1990s, concern has grown regarding a resurgence of the “anti-vaccine movement,” a loosely defined group of individuals who sow doubt about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. Although the most current iteration of this scare can be traced to the publication of Andrew Wakefield’s (since-retracted) paper linking the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism in 1998, anti-immunization sentiment in reality predates the process of vaccination, dating back to objections to the process of variolation in the early 18th century to reduce smallpox morbidity and mortality.

There was also mass rejection of vaccines especially the polio vaccine in some parts of northern Nigeria because of rumours associating the vaccine with plan by Western countries to reduce the population of Nigeria.

The NASRDA told journalists on Tuesday that it has established that the November 1, 2018 earth tremor in some parts of Abuja was a weak event and not strong to cause any damage to structures.

The Agency, in a statement by the Head, Media and Corporate Communications, Dr. Felix Ale, said after series of analysis of seismic data obtained from Toro and Kaduna stations by experts from its Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, it was also established that the earth tremor is likely another aftershock arising from magnitude 3.0 main shock that occurred in Abuja on 7th, October 2018 with epicenter located within Mpape area.

The Space Agency maintained that aftershocks from a main event might continue to occur in days, weeks and even in months depending on the nature of the fault.

Director General, NASRDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, advised residents of Abuja and environs to go about their normal businesses, as there is no cause for alarm.

Meanwhile, the Space Agency revealed that findings from earlier investigations by its Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics in Toro has shown that small magnitude earth tremors of less than or equal to 3.5 have high probability of occurrence in Nigeria in future.

He, however, said there is need for seismic and other relevant monitoring equipment in all areas where earth tremors have been witnessed for effective monitoring of seismic activities.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said immunisation against all vaccine preventable diseases in Nigeria remains free and safe.

Shuaib described as false, the information trending in some social media platforms that the Federal Government had stopped free immunization for the Nigerian children.

He assured members of the public and parents in particular that Nigeria has adequate vaccines for immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases, emphasizing that immunization of all antigens in the national immunization schedule remain free of charge to all parents and members of the public.

The Executive Director seized the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of immunization as contained in the national immunization schedule which include saving the lives of children and women of child bearing age and strengthening population immunity against vaccine preventable diseases. He further stated that vaccines and health commodities used by the Agency for all pu`blic health programmes are pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and certified safe for use by National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Faisal Shuaib called on Nigerians to continue to support Government at all levels and make their children and wards available for immunization at Primary Health Care facilities nearest to them.

He also dismissed some of the very misleading video and audio clips on social media insinuating that vaccines are harmful.

Shuaib urged all Nigerians to disregard the audio and the video clips and any publication that suggests anything less than safety, protection of life and strengthening of population immunity with immunization exercise and activities.

The Executive Director urged all Nigerians to desist from playing politics with lives, safety and growth of Nigerian Children. As entrusted public health professionals, NPHCDA undertakes its mandate of making Nigerian citizens healthy with utmost sense of integrity and moral responsibility.

He expressed the profound gratitude and appreciation of government at all levels and the people of Nigeria to all the development partners and donor agencies for their huge investment in immunisation towards the growth, wellbeing and the safety of the Nigerian children and women.

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