An anti-polio campaign kicks off tomorrow in 12 high-risk counties.
Health CS Secily Kariuki will launch it in Garissa. The drive targets the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia and Somalia launching a similar campaign.
The other counties are Wajir, Mandera, Nairobi, Lamu, Tana River, Meru, Kitui, Machakos, Isiolo, Kiambu and Kajiado. There will be two rounds of synchronised vaccination.
“Due to the recent isolation of more circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses in Somalia, and particularly in areas close to the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia border, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended two rounds of synchronised polio vaccination campaigns in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia,” the Health ministry said in a statement yesterday.
It targets 2.4 million underfives. Health teams will visit every house.
The July11-15 campaign targeted 2.6 million children.
Polio causes paralysis and even death. It enters the body through water or food contaminated with infected stool, and spreads easily across communities. A Unicef report says 90 per cent of infected people have mild or no symptoms. Others may experience fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and painful limbs.
Kenya has been free of any wild poliovirus circulation since 2014 even though the virus has been confirmed to exist. The Horn of Africa Region is still at higher risk because of low immunisation coverage — worsened by people’s migration.
A routine polio risk analysis revealed that several counties are at high risk of polio transmission due to low immunisation coverage. This puts everyone, especially children, at high risk of contracting polio.
The eradication strategy is, therefore, based on prevention by immunising every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.
“The vaccines have undergone rigorous safety procedures. The ministry together with the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops medical personnel and vaccine testing expert committee have undertaken further testing at the national quality control lab in Nairobi and the test confirmed their safety,” the ministry said.
It has appealed to residents of the targetted counties to avail their children to enable them kick polio out of Kenya by 2020. The second round of vaccination will be in October. It will target 827,089 children.