KNA Parents in Kajiado County have been urged to present their children for the 2nd phase of vaccination against polio.
The exercise which targets children under the age of five was earlier launched during the first phase in at least 13 high risk counties to cover more than 3.4 million recipients but the second and final phase commenced from 17th -21st July.
Other counties that are targeted include: Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kitui, Machakos, Kiambu, Tana River, Lamu and Nairobi.
Speaking during the launch of the exercise in Kajiado, Chief Executive Officer in charge of Medical Services Jacob Sampeke said the vaccination drive was necessitated after the confirmation of six cases of polio virus in February this year from sewerage materials in Garissa, and Mombasa.
Sampeke noted that polio was a deadly disease that not only causes paralysis but also permanent disability and affects muscles that aid in breathing and no child should be put at risk by missing out on vaccination.
“Polio is a very deadly disease that causes paralysis. 13 high risk counties are being targeted in the first phase of the campaign which will run from today to 21st July. I urge all parents to avail their children for the vaccine,” he said.
He emphasized that children aged below 5 years were targeted as they are particularly vulnerable to diseases as their immunity is not yet fully developed to fight many infections.
The CEO added that although Kenya has been polio free since 2015, several outbreaks have been recorded due to importations through the porous borders.
Former Senator Harold Kipchumba, a polio ambassador, said there were groups of religious people who had been difficult to reach in the first phase, stressing the need for these groups to avail their children so that they could be vaccinated in the second phase.
Kipchumba said some religious sects such as Kabonokia had been giving them a hard time and hiding their children so as not to be vaccinated.
He noted that it was a child’s right to receive the vaccine so as to be protected from the paralyzing infection and those hiding their children would be arrested.
Kipchumba called on Chiefs, Nyumba Kumi elders and the public at large to report to them those who were preventing their children from receiving the vaccine.
“There are some parents who hide their children so that they do not receive the polio vaccine due to their religious beliefs. Sects like Kabonokia’ who are many in Kitengela and Kajiado town don’t allow their children to be vaccinated. This is illegal and they risk arrest,” he said.
Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease that only affects humans.
It is very contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact through food or water contaminated with feaces of an infected person.
The virus lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines and enters the body through the mouth and spreads through contact with the feaces of an infected person.
Early symptoms of polio include nausea, fever, fatigue, stomach pains, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and back. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.
An infected person may spread the virus to others immediately before and about 1 to 2 weeks after symptoms appear. The virus can live in an infected person’s feaces for many weeks.
People who don’t have symptoms can still pass the virus to others.
Cases of polio worldwide have reduced significantly by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to two Wild polio virus cases reported this year. Currently, only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, remain polio-endemic.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) had certified the Africa Region polio free in 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and weaknesses in routine immunization in neighboring countries have led to a resurgence of polio outbreaks.