Babies risk ailments as vaccine shortage hits

Babies countrywide might have to wait longer before receiving the crucial measles vaccination.

The vaccine, which is given to children below one year, has been missing in some hospitals, causing panic among parents. Measles-Rubella is one of the routine vaccines the Ministry of Health provides for free.

The ministry yesterday confirmed that there was a shortage of the vaccine in some parts of the country.

“The Ministry of Health is currently aware of the shortage of Measles Rubella vaccine in specific counties, including Bomet, Busia, Bungoma, Homa Bay, Kilifi, Makueni, Nakuru, Taita Taveta, Siaya, Nyandarua, Migori, Uasin Gishu, Nairobi, Kakamega and Vihiga,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki in a statement.

Further, the ministry said it had conducted an analysis of the Measles Rubella stock situation in the country and put in measures to mitigate stockouts through regional, inter-county and sub-county redistribution.

 More vaccines

“Even within counties there are sub-counties that are holding more vaccines than others that can be shared with other sub-counties. Procurement of a new consignment of Measles Rubella vaccines is also underway. The Ministry continues to monitor the stock situation of all vaccines to ensure every child receives recommended vaccines and is protected against vaccine preventable diseases,” Ms Kariuki added.

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In Baringo County, nurses’ representative Francis Koro said the vaccine was last supplied in October. “Currently parents are forced to visit high volume facilities like Kabarnet hospital, where we have some stock,” said the nurse.

The vaccine falls under the Kenya Expanded Programme Immunisation (KEPI) given at nine months to prevent measles, mumps and rubella.

A nurse at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital said the shortage was reported as early as two months ago. The nurse added that there had also been a shortage of Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, what could put newborns in danger of contracting Tuberculosis.

Mobilising parents

To avert contraction of measles and TB, she said health officials together with community health volunteers were mobilising parents to take their children for the vaccine, recently supplied by the medical agency.

In Bomet, it was reported that there was a shortage of BCG, pneumococcal and tetanus, while measles was supplied in low volume as per expected amount.

At the same time, Kisumu public hospitals are appealing for supplies of measles vaccine as their stocks are running out.

Last July, the Government procured 2,254,000 doses of Polio and 1,900,000 doses of measles rubella vaccines to boost immunisation coverage in the country.

 [Reports by Yvonne Kawira, Mercy Kahenda and Mactilda Mbenywe]

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Measles-RubellaMeasles Vaccine