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January 16, 2019

Anti-polio campaign for 2.6m kids starts

A minor receives a polio vaccine at a Kisii Level Five hospital on April 10,2017./FILE
A minor receives a polio vaccine at a Kisii Level Five hospital on April 10,2017./FILE

The ministry of Health is targeting Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties in a new round of polio vaccination that begins today.

Other high risk counties are Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, Meru, Isiolo, Tana River, Lamu and Kitui. Some 2.6 million children are expected to be vaccinated.

The ministry, Unicef and the World Health Organization will conduct the drive until July 15.

Speaking to the Star yesterday, director of medical services in the ministry Jackson Kioko told parents to take their children under five years for vaccination.

He said they are on high alert since some border areas have reported an outbreak.

"We have factored in areas that have a tendency to resist the vaccine because of cultural and religious reasons. We hope to hit our target by the end of the campaign. Teams will administer oral polio vaccination door-to-door,” he said.

Polio is a serious infectious illness caused by poliovirus. It is spread through contact with the stool of an infected person.

"The symptoms include fever, tiredness, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness, and pain in the arms and legs. In one in 200 people with polio infection, the virus travels to the nervous system and causes permanent paralysis, usually in the legs. This is called paralytic polio,” Kioko said.

"Between one in 10 and one in 20 people with paralytic polio will die because the breathing muscles stop working properly.”

On April 6, Kenya Medical Research Institute issued an alert to the ministry after a team of experts found traces of polio virus type 2 in sewage samples from Eastleigh.

WHO has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare polio virus eradication as a national public health emergency in Kenya.

It wants emergency status maintained for one year until there is evidence that the transmission has been stopped.

The previous vaccination was done from May 9 to12.

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