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Measles-rubella vaccination drive targets 37,037 children

West Pokot residents have been asked to support the government in realising over 95 per cent target in the ongoing vaccination exercise against measles and rubella diseases that commenced last week. 

During a stakeholders meeting held in Kapenguria Town, Ms Catherine Silali from the National Vaccines and Immunisation Programme said some areas in the county had as low as 61 per cent MRI vaccination meaning many children aged below five years have never received the immunisation thus posing a grave danger in case of outbreaks.

Silali noted that West Pokot County had been included as one of the six counties that are at high risk of measles and rubella attack calling for intensified mobilisations to help increase the vaccination rate.

She called on those tasked to conduct the focused groups’ vaccination exercise to ensure they update the residents on when they shall be stationed every day for the 10 days’ exercise that started on December 9 to December 18.

“We have had past challenges with immunisation drives where people living along the borders of wards and villages do not get vaccinated because those tasked to conduct the exercise fail to identify where the target population dwell. We should work very closely with leaderships at the grassroots to avoid any fear of overlaps in the vaccination,” she explained.

During the meeting, it was established that the region experiences a low immunisation among the children owing to the nomadic lifestyles of some parts of county.

“Some families migrate to the neighbouring country Uganda in search of pasture and water for their livestock and only return after some months. This has negatively influenced vaccination drives among children because they move with their parents,” stated Ms Ruth Pilakan, West Sub County Public Health Nurse.

Pilakan exuded confidence that the exercise will see more children aged between nine months to 59 months gets the vaccine during the 10 days of the MR1 campaign exercise.

She reiterated the need for all children within the age limit get immunised to boost the immune system against measles and rubella which she explained would result into blindness in case of attack.

She added that the viruses that cause the diseases spread very fast and because of the nomadic nature of some community members in the region, there are cross border migrations between Turkana and West Pokot counties. 

“Besides the nomadic lives nowadays there are a lot of human interaction within this region and across the country hence the need for the vaccination,” added the Public Health Nurse.

Pilakan also revealed the children will receive Vitamin A dose besides the immunisation calling on the parents to avail their children for vaccination. 

The county health department has employed strategies such as roadside shows and sensitisation through the local vernacular stations to help mobilise the residents participate in the campaign.

“We have vehicles that move around to announce to where our teams shall be at the temporary centres each day. We have also got links with the chiefs, assistant chiefs, religious leaders, bodaboda riders, youth leaders and the village managers to help us reach the most of the population,” she said.

Pilakan explained that routine measles and rubella vaccinations are ongoing in various public health facilities hence even after the elapse of the campaign, parents should take their children to get immunised.

West Pokot targets to vaccinate 37,037 children in the drive with a similar immunisation campaign being conducted in Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, Wajir and Nairobi City counties together with two refugee camps within the county.

The stakeholders said that for a long time, children in some areas miss vaccinations because of inaccessibility and absence of health and learning facilities where immunisation drives are usually conducted.

By Richard Muhambe

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