Kenya to conduct polio vaccination campaign at border regions
25 August 2015, 21:40
Nairobi - Kenya plans to carry out its
second round of polio vaccination campaign targeting 1.5 million children under
the age of five in the border counties at the end of August, officials said on
Ephantus Maree, Head of Vaccines and Immunization with
Ministry of Health, told a health forum in Nairobi that Kenya's neighboring
countries that have weak health systems pose a major risk due to migration
across porous borders.
"We will therefore conduct a one-week long
supplementary immunization campaign targeting the most high risk
populations," Maree said during the National Polio Stakeholders meeting.
The polio immunization campaign will take place just a few
weeks after the East African nation conducted a similar campaign targeting 32
counties. The government vaccinated more than 6 million children below five
years of age against polio in the five-day exercise which ended on Aug. 7.
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The vaccination yielded coverage of 99.3 percent, implying
that the vaccinated children are protected from any infection by Wild Polio
A risk analysis done in Kenya in January shows that 66
percent of Kenya was still under moderate or high risk of getting polio should
an imported case be found in the country.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative therefore
recommended that Kenya conducts two vaccination campaigns in 2015 targeting the
areas at risk of polio. And the UN World Health Organization (WHO) will fund
the two campaigns to the tune of 1.2 million U.S. dollars.
Maree said that the risk of a polio outbreak in Kenya is
still high because only 1.2 million children out of the 1.5 million targeted
for routine immunization in health facilities are reached.
The ministry of health said that Kenya's last outbreak
occurred in 2013 where a total of 14 polio cases were reported in the Garissa
County that borders Somalia.
The global community has set a target of eradicating polio
by end of 2018. Maree said that 2015 is the best year for the campaign
targeting elimination of the virus as only 35 cases were reported globally and
none in Africa.
He added that Africa will only be declared polio free if no
nation in the continent reports any case of polio.