•So far, through support from Gavi, 37 counties have been provided with vehicles to support vaccine collection from our regional depots
•All counties have also been provided with a motorbike to support cold chain equipment repair and maintenance
The Ministry of Health has expressed concern over the rising number of unvaccinated children in counties.
Health CS Susan Wafula has noted that despite Kenya making significant strides in the overall improvement in immunisation coverage, there are some counties which are lagging behind.
This has been attributed to critical challenges such as insecurity, geographical and social barriers despite the effort by the county teams to reach the children with the life-saving vaccines.
“We need to work together to tackle the challenges in a tailored fashion due to the uniqueness of each county,” Wafula said.
“The most vulnerable populations are often left out, and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles occur,” she added.
According to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, routine immunisation coverage in the country currently stands at 80 per cent.
She urged health workers to focus on increasing the coverage of the second dose of measles, even as they put in place strategies for other vaccines.
The uptake of the vaccines further received a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic that saw thousands of children miss out on basic vaccines.
Globally, at least 23 million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunisation services in 2020 – 3.7 million more than in 2019.
According to the World Health Organisation, children who miss vaccines are in communities affected by conflict, in underserved remote places, or in informal or slum settings where they face multiple deprivations, including limited access to basic health and key social services.
Over the years, the national government in collaboration with counties and other partners has invested in immunisation in the form of cold chain equipment, capacity building of health workers, and service delivery strategies such as campaigns and outreaches.
So far, through support from Gavi, 37 counties have been provided with vehicles to support vaccine collection from our regional depots.
All counties have also been provided with a motorbike to support cold chain equipment repair and maintenance.
These initiatives have improved access and helped to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.
The CS has called on the counties to allocate more resources for immunisation operations even as Kenya prepares to transition from donor funding.
“Kenya is due to transition from Gavi support by 2030. We must therefore put all out efforts together in reaching the last child, no one should be left behind,” Wafula said.
In the past year to date, Kenya has grappled with measles outbreaks, an occurrence that clearly denotes significant immunity gaps in the population.