Another round of polio vaccine to target 13 counties

The Ministry of Health(MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched another round of polio immunisation campaign targeting 13 high risk counties inorder to realize the 2018 polio free world target.

The immunisation which begins on March 5-9 targets Garissa,Wajir,Mandera,Marsabit,Isiolo,Tharaka Nithi,Turkana,West Pokot,Trans Nzoia,Uasin Gishu,Narok ,Tana River and Lamu counties.

Speaking during a media briefing on the up-coming campaign in Nairobi, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate, the WHO country representative in Kenya, said this campaign is focused on the 13 counties because children in those areas are not being reached with vaccines routinely which makes them vulnerable to the polio virus.

“We have pastoralists, refugees and other migrant populations whose priorities may be water and food rather than vaccinations,” said Mandlhate adding that there is need to make concerted efforts towards protecting them.

He observed that Kenya being in the Horn of Africa remains at risk of the polio virus as long as circulation is not interrupted in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The County Representative dismissed allegations by a section of religious leaders that the oral polio vaccination is not safe and said that all vaccines used in the country for routine or mass immunisations are WHO pre-qualified safe and effective.

He said the eradication of polio and elimination of measles, rubella and maternal neonatal tetanus infections are global commitments to which Kenya is a member state.

“I appeal to the government of Kenya and MoH to actively engage all stakeholders, including the Catholic Church, on issues related to vaccination”, Mandlhate said.

he added that Kenya will carry out another campaign in the month of April which will be a milestone as it will switch from using trivalent Oral Polio vaccine to bivalent oral polio vaccine in its routine immunisation schedule.

Head of Public Health Surveillance, Dr. Daniel Langat said that Kenya must be a pace setter in ensuring that polio eradication is achieved by 2018.

He called on the need to sustain a robust surveillance system, adding that so far the coverage of those immunised stand at 93 per cent.

The Horn of Africa Technical Advisory Group assessment has declared Kenya and HOA Region as having successfully interrupted the 3012 poliovirus outbreak.

Source: Kenya news Agency