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Government targets 3.4M children for polio vaccination

The government through the Ministry of Health is targeting over 3.4 million children under the age of five for vaccination against polio.

Speaking after the Launch of vaccination campaign in Garissa Township, Head of Public Health Dr. Francis Kuria who represented Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the vaccination will take place from May 22 to 26 in 13 counties across the country.

The 13 counties including those bordering Ethiopia and Somalia are Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kitui, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu, Tana River, Lamu and Nairobi.

In a speech read by Dr. Kuria, the Health CS said the exercise was a rapid intervention to improve population immunity against polio in high-risk regions bordering neighbouring countries for under five children.

“The World Health Organization had certified the Africa Region polio free in 2020, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and weakness in routine immunisation in our neighbouring countries have led to resurgence of polio outbreaks,” Kagwe said.

“Three polio cases were detected early this year from children and three more cases from sewerage samples. All the three children were new entrants in Garissa County from Somalia,” he added.

In his speech, Dr. Kuria said that the country could not afford the polio crisis in the middle of another crisis brought by Covid-19 and that the government will work diligently to ensure that, all communities have access to polio vaccinations.

“Next month we will have a second phase of campaign in the same counties from June 19 to 23 to continue with the immunisation. I want to call everyone to bring their children for vaccination because we do not want to see more people paralyzing or dying because of polio,” Dr. Kuria said.

He emphasized on the importance of observing Covid-19 measures set by the Ministry of Health and rubbished fears of the vaccine side effects.

According to Garissa Health CEC Roble Nunow, the county is targeting 249,397 children in both the communities and the refugee camps.

“Our officers will go house to house, including in the refugee camps and we will make sure that they observe the Covid-19 protocols. We will also have a mobile clinic so that we cover every child in the county,” Nunow said

UNICEF’s Chief of Health, Dr. Yaron Wolman said they are procuring the vaccines on behalf of the government, and together with other partners will work closely to achieve 100% vaccination for all children.

By Erick Kyalo

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