The city of Nairobi, Kenya, has launched a mass vaccination drive that’s aimed at getting a minimum of one million children vaccinated against polio.
Nairobi Governor, Mike Sonko, last week called on healthcare workers to help ensure that the capital city meets its vaccination targets.
Sonko said: “Children under the age of five years are particularly vulnerable to diseases because their immunity is yet to fully develop.”
The vaccination will be available free of charge in all public clinics and hospitals in the city.
The campaign is part of national action that’s aimed at getting 2.6 million children — from newborns to 5 years old — vaccinated against polio.
The vaccination drive will be rolled out in counties that have the highest risk of polio outbreaks.
These are Mombasa, Nairobi, Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Kilifi, Turkana, Isiolo, and Mandera.
As well as being available at public clinics and hospitals, vaccines will also be taken to people’s door steps, and will also be available at churches, mosques, temples, and other religious centres.
Bus stations, malls, and recreation and shopping centres are also targeted.
The vaccination drive comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of possible outbreaks in some parts of East Africa.
Kenya is on high alert after the polio virus was found in sewage water in Eastleigh, Nairobi, in May 2018.
Meanwhile, Garissa County in the north eastern part of Kenya had a polio outbreak in 2013. The outbreak paralyzed 14 people and killed two.
Even so, Kenya has made great progress in its fight against polio. Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects young children.
It’s spread through human faeces that ends up in the water supply, and contaminated food and water, and can lead to paralysis and death. There is no cure for the disease.
WHO representative Dr. Rudi Eggers said of the global fight against polio: “We are very close to achieving that goal of eradicating polio. We have reduced the number of children suffering from paralysis caused by polio from 350,000 per year in 1988 to 22 in 2017”.
And he added that total eradication of the disease can be achieved “by vaccinating children with the two drops of the vaccine.”