Govt. to launch five-day polio vaccination campaign on April 1


NAIROBI, Kenya, 30 March 2017 – The Ministry of Health will on Saturday launch a five-day polio vaccination campaign targeting over 4.5 million children below the age of five, in 22 high risk Counties.

The campaign will be conducted in Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garissa, Homabay, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kisumu, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Nairobi, Nandi,Samburu, Siaya,Tana River,Trans Nzoia,Turkana,Uasin Gishu, Vihiga, Wajir and West Pokot Counties to ensure all children are protected against the deadly disease.

Vaccination teams will move from house to house to vaccinate all children under five years and designated areas such as like schools, churches and transit points to ensure that no eligible child is missed. Those seeking treatment in health facilities for other disease conditions will also receive the vaccine.

Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Cleopa Mailu, through the Head of the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Dr. David Soti, has urged parents, guardians and communities in the targeted Counties to ensure that all children below five years receive the polio vaccine.

“The vaccines that will be used during this polio vaccination campaign are the same ones used in our routine immunization program in all public, private and faith-based health facilities. Additionally, the vaccines have been evaluated by the National Quality Control Laboratory and found to be safe,” announced Dr. Soti.

The last polio outbreak in Kenya occurred three years ago and was reported in Rongo, Migori County. Three years prior to the outbreak, a wild polio virus outbreak paralyzed 14 people and killed two others in the present Garissa & Turkana Counties. The detection of polio cases in Nigeria last year poses a risk to Kenya owing to the significant population movement between the two countries.

According to Dr. Soti Kenya has not had an indigenous case of polio since 1984 although the fight to remain polio-free had been hampered by importations from other countries. Kenya will continue to guard its polio-free status by strengthening routine immunization, conducting high quality polio vaccination campaigns and sustaining a robust surveillance system, Dr. Soti said.

“Children below five years are particularly vulnerable to diseases because their immunity is not yet fully developed to fight the diseases. Polio is one of the serious vaccine preventable diseases because not only does it cause paralysis and disability but it can also kill,” he noted.

The Government is partnering with World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, LDS Charities, USAID, Kenya Red Cross, County Governments, government agencies, local NGOs, Faith Based Organizations, community leaders, religious leaders, teachers and media.

Polio is the second disease being targeted for total eradication in Kenya, after Small Pox was declared eradicated in 1980. Due to the concerted global effort to eradicate Polio, the cases have decreased significantly by over 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to only 35 polio cases in 2016.

Currently, only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 countries in 1988.