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Health Ministry launches nationwide polio vaccination

Health & Science
 Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia. (Photo:File/Standard)

Kenya: The Ministry of Health Saturday launched a nationwide campaign against polio that will run for five days from August 1.

“Children below 5 years of age need to be protected from Polio and this is especially so following the outbreak that occurred in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia in 2013/14 resulting in more than 200 cases,” said the ministry during the campaign launch in Gilgil, Nakuru County.

Polio is the second disease targeted for total eradication after the successful eradication of Small Pox globally in 1977.

Risk analysis done by the Ministry of Health in January 2015 showed that 66 per cent of children less than 5 years in Kenya were at moderate or high risk of getting polio in case an imported case found its way into the country.

The high risk areas targeted during this campaign fall within 32 counties: Lamu, Tana river, Kitui, Marsabit, Tharaka Nithi, Nairobi, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Homabay, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi, Narok, Samburu, Transnzoia, Turkana, Uasin-Gishu, West Pokot, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega and Vihiga Counties.

Vaccination teams will be moving house to house and will target to vaccinate 6 million children below 5 years.

A second round of vaccination targeting 1.8 million children in 11 counties is scheduled between August 29 and September 2.

In a bid to allay growing fears over the use of polio vaccination, the Ministry assured parents, guardians and all Kenyans that the vaccines used during these polio vaccination campaigns are safe and effective and are the same vaccines used routinely to immunise children in all public, private and faith-based health facilities.

Speaking at the launch, WHO Country Representative in Kenya Dr Custodia Mandlhate said all vaccines used in Kenya, whether in routine immunization or in mass immunization campaigns, are WHO-prequalified and are safe and effective.

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