The government of Kenya on Friday launched a Measles vaccination drive that would cover 22 counties in Kajiado.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, oversaw the launch, which aimed to cover approximately 3.5 million children between the ages of 9-59 months. The whole process would cost the government Ksh 800 million.
Decline in vaccination
Dr. Mwangangi said there had been a decline in child immunization coverage, and Measles remained a constant threat, with outbreaks witnessed last year.
“Due to the decline in childhood immunization coverage, we remain at constant risk of Measles outbreaks as has been witnesses over the last one year,” Dr. Mwangangi said, “This year alone, we have witnessed outbreaks in Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, West Pokot and Tana River among others.”
The Ministry said that only one in five children had gotten at least one dose of the Measles-Rubella vaccine, meaning that more than 2.1 million children were at risk of the disease. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had also aided in the outbreak.
Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi today launched the National Measles Rubella vaccination campaign in the County of Kajiado. The campaign targets to reach approximately 3.5 million children of ages 9 – 59 Months over this period and will cost Kshs. 800 million. pic.twitter.com/2u1TNf9ZES
— Ministry of Health (@MOH_Kenya) June 25, 2021
The World Health Organization (WHO) had supported the Ministry in conducting a risk assessment, which found 22 counties were at a very high risk of Measles outbreaks. These counties were Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Kilifi, Baringo, West Pokot, and Turkana.
Others were Trans Nzoia, Tana River, Elgeyo Marakwet, Homa Bay, Busia, Kajiado, Kisii, and Migori. There were also Nairobi, Bomet, Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Narok.
The government and county governments will now mobilise over 16,000 health workers to give the Measles-Rubella vaccine across 5,061 vaccination posts. The vaccine will be free.
“I appeal to all of you, parents and caregivers with children aged between 9 months to 59 months, to take them for immunization,” Dr. Mwangangi said.
Measles and Rubella
These two are highly infectious and dangerous diseases caused by viruses that can only survive in human beings. Measles often causes deaths in children due to complications like severe diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage, blindness, and ear infection.
Rubella, meanwhile, can also lead to heart problems, brain damage, and loss of hearing and eyesight.