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Nakuru makes significant gains in immunization coverage

Nakuru County vaccination coverage has significantly shot up after hitting a 10-year low of 83 percent in 2019, exposing children below one year to diseases such as polio, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

            A tally of immunization performance for September 2020 to January 2021 from the devolved unit’s Department of Public Health shows the coverage is now at 91 percent.

            Acting County Director for Public Health Ms Elizabeth Kiptoo said the survey had established that children under one year have received one dose of BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin, which is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB); another of measles and three doses each of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and pentavalent, pneumococcal vaccines.

            Ms Kiptoo observed that despite the impressive figures, low immunization coverage remains a challenge in low income and high population settings such as Kaptembwa, Kivumbini and Bondeni areas of the county.

            While speaking during a forum to review routine immunization coverage in the county supported by Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (KANCO) through Global Alliance and Vaccines Initiative- Health Systems the Acting Director said there is need to further improve coverage, achieve equity and institute measures to sustain the coverage.

             She said this will include tracking of all children who may have missed vaccines so far.

Ms Kiptoo said key drivers of low immunization coverage persist at service delivery level.

            “These include sub-optimal and irregular immunization outreaches; lack of daily vaccination schedules due to staff shortage; scheduling of vaccines or vaccine stock-outs and poor follow-up mechanisms for defaulters,” she noted.

            The County government, she revealed, was also planning to carry out campaigns for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Measles Rubella, Meningitis A, and yellow fever.

            The Acting Director pledged the county administration’s commitment to offer technical support to partners to improve health service delivery in the country.

            “Overall, the burden due to vaccine preventable diseases has dropped by 69 per cent, from the year 2014. It is through the effort of various stakeholders and the county government as implementers that this has been possible,” offered Ms Kiptoo.

            She said routine immunization would be strengthened by ensuring daily vaccination in all health, improved distribution of vaccines and injection devices and improved reporting.

            Ms Kiptoo stated the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination will give priority to Health workers, elderly people above 65 years and those living with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension and asthma among others.

Jane Ngugi/Harriet Akinyi

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