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Ministry targets 3.4 million children in polio vaccination

The Ministry of Health is targeting to vaccinate 3.4 million children aged below five years during polio vaccination exercise that will kick off on Saturday May 22, 2021.

Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe, said that in February this year, the Ministry confirmed six cases of polio virus among them were samples picked from sewage material in Garissa and Mombasa counties.

Kagwe said the outbreak in Garissa and Mombasa counties prompted the Health Ministry to undertake a risk assessment where they identified 13 counties which are at the highest risk and opted for emergency polio vaccination in targeted regions of Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kitui, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu, and Nairobi.

The Head of Division of Disease Surveillance and Response Public in the Ministry of Health. Photo by Hamdi Mohamud

He said the detection of the cases necessitated the Ministry to conduct emergency polio campaigns in line with global polio eradication initiative.

The CS made the remarks, Thursday, in a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Public Health, Dr Francis Kuria, during the polio meeting hosted for stakeholders and media at a Nairobi hotel.

Kagwe noted that  during past campaigns, some polio vaccine safety concerns were raised and assured member of the public that polio vaccines used for campaigns and routine immunisation have undergone rigorous safety procedures and are safe to be administered to children

“The Ministry has noted with concern that a number of hesitant groups have established themselves in certain parts of the country, including Kitui County. We wish to state categorically that health interventions, including vaccination is a right to the child and not a privilege,” he stated.

“The Government will take necessary actions, including enforcing the Public Health Act to ensure that all children and indeed all Kenyans enjoy this fundamental right,” added the CS.

The Ministry of Health also urged parents, guardians and communities living in the areas where the campaign will take place to ensure that all children under the age of five years receive the polio vaccine.

The campaign strategy will be house-to-house vaccination and at the existing health facilities.

By Hamdi Mohamud

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