A letter on Child Engagement in Immunisation from Nigeria

Dear Clare,
I really felt good chatting with you on the value that children bring to the health space if properly harnessed. Indeed they are a veritable resource. I love your website and the simple way that it articulates children as health advocates within their communities, Many times their value is usually overlooked.
There is no better time than now especially with the present Pandemic and other epidemics that may happen in the future (I hope I am wrong there). Vaccine hesitancy is a great challenge to immunization coverage in spite of many efforts to raise awareness and demand for it.
 It has become obvious to include children and adolescents for advocacy and advocates for immunization and other health intervention. Indeed they are stakeholders and this is the time to engage them in the fight against diseases like COVID 19.
Children under 10-years are recipients of over 60 percent of vaccine jabs – mostly without their cooperation. In many cases have the impression of coercion into what their parents or guardians want without recourse to the pain they feel in the process, this leads to negative mental profiling in their minds and leaves a gap in the agenda of “Leave no Child behind.” This gap becomes important in cases where parents forget the immunization schedule and the children refuse to alert their parents.
Children must be made to understand the merits associated with immunization and health as a whole in order to get their cooperation which is key to complementing other advocacy efforts. let us take advantage of using diverse methods to create demand for immunization, communicate the risks associated/the importance of taking the vaccine and other necessary interventions.
Furthermore, the inclusion of children in the vaccine story will have a multiplier impact because children as natural advocates will eagerly share their knowledge amongst peers, parents, and other community members. They are the most adamant activists of their desires, even the hardest to convince guardians will be compelled by a child advocate.
Needless to say, children are the future caregivers who will be vaccine advocates. The approach is also cost-effective as already existing infrastructures like schools, peer learning groups, and viable platforms. School curriculums, children for health curriculums should be used to inform and educate on the impact of vaccines. We are community-based and can clearly see that collaborating with you will go a long way to achieving the maximum result
I really look forward to collaborating with you in this way.

The author at Ruga School, Abuja