Kids from 15 counties to get anti-polio jab
The polio virus does not respect geographical borders and communities – Core Group Polio Project director
More than one million Kenyan children will again be vaccinated against polio. The virus reappeared in Nigeria three months ago.
Kenya has been free of polio since 2006. But it has experienced several importations of wild polio virus, causing outbreaks in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
The Health ministry said it will return to 15 high-risk counties between December 10 and December 14 and give jabs to all children under the age of five. Some of these children may have been vaccinated in the nationwide drive April this year.
However, director of medical services Jackson Kioko said they will receive the jabs again because Kenya is at risk of the imported virus.
Targeted counties include Nairobi, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Turkana, Lamu, Tana River, Isiolo, Samburu, West pokot. Uasin Gishu, Busia, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia.
The ministry has called meetings to raise awareness about the campaign. “The campaign targets 33 per cent of under-fives in Kenya and for this reason it is important to convene an immunisation stakeholders’ meeting before the campaign to ensure involvement and support for the campaign,” Kioko said.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus must be swallowed to cause infection. It then multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Most infected people do not develop symptoms at all or may have mild symptoms which include fever, tiredness, headache, sore throat, nausea and vomiting.
Some people develop muscle paralysis and die if the respiatory muscles are attacked. Kenya is also working with Somalia to ensure communities along the border are vaccinated. “The polio virus does not respect geographical borders and communities,” Core Group Polio Project director Jitendra Awal said.
A child receives a polio vaccine at Kisii Level 5 Hospital on April 10