Kids from 15 coun­ties to get anti-po­lio jab

The po­lio virus does not re­spect geo­graph­i­cal bor­ders and com­mu­ni­ties – Core Group Po­lio Project di­rec­tor

The Star (Kenya) - - News - JOHN MUCHANGI @jo­munji

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.

/ FILE

A child re­ceives a po­lio vac­cine at Kisii Level 5 Hos­pi­tal on April 10

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