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3 million children targeted in polio vaccination

By Abdimalik Ismail Hajir | May 21st 2021
The week-long vaccination will be conducted from May 22. [Courtesy]

The government yesterday launched polio vaccination campaign that targets over 3 million children in 13 high-risk counties.

The week-long vaccination will be conducted from May 22 in Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kitui, Lamu, Machakos, Mandera, Naiorbi, Tana River and Wajir counties.

Unicef Kenya’s Chief of Health Yaron Wolman said his organisation is procuring the vaccines and will help the government to deliver door-to-door immunisation in adherence to Covid-19 mitigation measures.

Speaking during the launch at Iftin Sub-county Hospital in Garissa town, Wolman said as long as one child tests positive for polio, the World Health Organisation considers 200,000 children to be at risk of contracting the disease.

“We have known for a long time that Kenya and the surrounding region remain at risk due to low immunisation coverage, porous borders with high-risk countries and high population movement,” he said.

The latest polio campaign, experts said, was necessitated by the mutated virus that was found in sewage in Garissa and Mombasa.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, in a speech read on his behalf by Director of Public Health Dr Francis Kuria, said concerted efforts by the government and partners over the years have brought the country closer to being polio-free.

The CS said although WHO had certified Kenya polio-free in 2020, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and weaknesses in routine immunisation in neighboring countries have led to a resurgence of polio outbreaks.

He said the ministry had intensified surveillance across all regions with more emphasis on frontier counties located along the Kenya-Somalia and Kenya-Ethiopia common borders.

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