The Kenyan government has launched a polio vaccination campaign targeting over 3 million children in 13 high-risk communities.
The week-long vaccination began on Saturday and is being carried out in Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kitui, Lamu, Machakos, Mandera, Naiorbi, Tana River, and Wajir counties.
UNICEF, Kenya’s health chief Yaron Wolman, said his organization is sourcing the vaccines and will help the government conduct door-to-door vaccination in compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures.
As long as a child tests positive for polio, the World Health Organization estimates that 200,000 children are at risk of developing the disease.
“We have long known that Kenya and the surrounding region continue to be at risk due to low vaccination rates, porous borders with high-risk countries and high population movements,” he said.
According to experts, the most recent polio campaign was made necessary by the mutated virus found in sewage in Garissa and Mombasa.
The country’s health ministry said in a statement that the concerted efforts of the government and partners over the years have brought the country closer to polio-free status.
The ministry said although the WHO classified Kenya as polio-free in 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and weaknesses in routine immunization in neighboring countries have resulted in recurrence of polio outbreaks in neighboring countries.
Kenya has stepped up surveillance in all regions, with a focus on the border districts along the shared Kenya-Somalia and Kenya-Ethiopia borders.
(With contributions from agencies)