- This is not the first time Kenya is changing polio vaccines.
- The cVDPVs occur in communities where not enough children have received the polio vaccine.
Kenya is in the process of introducing a new polio vaccine for use during mop up campaigns.
The novel oral polio vaccine type 2, is being introduced because it works against the vaccine-derived poliovirus, which was last detected in Kenya in December 2020 and January this year.
Kenya is among 22 African countries that have submitted documents to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative expressing readiness to introduce the nOPV2.
Only six countries have been certified as ready while verification of Kenya’s documents is ongoing.
“The vaccine will not be used in the routine child vaccination schedule, but during the mop up campaigns,” a Ministry of Health official said.
This is not the first time Kenya is introducing a new polio vaccine.
After the world eradicated type 2 wild polio in 2015, Kenya was among countries that switched from the trivalent oral polio vaccine to the current bivalent oral polio vaccine, which protects against polio types 1 and 3.
Kenya reported its last case of indigenous Wild Poliovirus in 1984 but reported an outbreak of circulating Vaccine-derived Poliovirus type 2 in 2018, 2020 and January 2021, in refugees arriving from Somalia.
The vaccine-derived poliovirus is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus. It is mostly shed in stool.
Clinical trials show the nOPV2 vaccine to be more genetically stable than mOPV2, making it unlikely to revert into a form which can cause paralysis in low immunity settings.
The monovalent OPV, which is often used in mop up campaigns, remains safe and effective and protect against polio and successfully stopped cVDPV2 outbreaks in the past.
Last week, Kenya was also among the governments from the World Health Organisation African region that committed to ending all remaining forms of polio.
They noted while African was certified free of wild poliovirus one year ago following four years without a case, outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus continue to spread.
The cVDPVs occur in communities where not enough children have received the polio vaccine.
Cases increased last year in part because of disruptions to polio vaccination campaigns caused by Covid-19.
“Our success in ending wild poliovirus in the region shows what is possible when we work together with urgency,” WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
The countries discussed how they will begin implementing the new Global Polio Eradication Initiative 2022-2026 Strategy that was launched in June to urgently stop the spread of cVDPVs.
Part of the strategy is broadening the rollout of the nOPV2.
To date, six countries in Africa have rolled out the vaccine with close to 40 million children vaccinated and no concerns noted for safety.
-Edited by SKanyara