Kenya

Kenya intensifies efforts to fight polio

© UNICEF Video
For the first time, inactivated polio vaccine was administered alongside oral polio vaccine in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camps and neighbouring host communities.

 

By Pieter Desloovere

DADAAB, Kenya, 26 February 2014 – The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya as well as neighbouring host communities have for the first time conducted a co-administration of oral and inactivated polio vaccine campaign, along with vitamin A supplementation. More than 530,000 children under age 5 were vaccinated in December with oral polio vaccine (OPV), while 120,000 children under 5 received inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Video
More than 530,000 children under age 5 were vaccinated in December with oral polio vaccine, while 120,000 children under 5 received inactivated polio vaccine in Kenya.

Kenya reported a total of 14 polio cases in 2013. To contain the outbreak, a number of immunization campaigns were conducted across the country.

UNICEF and partners supported the Kenyan Ministry of Health in immunizing children under 5 in Dadaab and in neighbouring host communities.

“This time we are including injectable polio vaccine,” says Dr. Samuel Oumo Okiror, Medical Officer at the World Health Organization. “When IPV is combined with OPV, or polio drops, the immunity of the target group improves a lot. We want to make sure that there is better immunity gained among the children.”

Used together, the vaccines accelerate the interruption of poliovirus transmission during outbreaks and also provide greater overall protection from the virus. This approach has not been used previously in any outbreak response.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Video
In 2013, Kenya reported a total of 14 polio cases. To contain the outbreak, a number of immunization campaigns have been conducted across the country.

Community-based social mobilizers, such as local political and religious leaders, explain to mothers the importance of getting their children vaccinated. Flipcharts and other tools are used to spread polio messages.

“My child was admitted with fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, but is feeling better now compared to the first day,” says a mother in Ifo hospital at Dadaab camp. “The vaccine is important, because it prevents polio, and mothers should make sure their children get it early.”

To reach and vaccinate every child, vaccination teams at Dadaab face various challenges, such as insecurity, walking long distances and making sure vaccines are kept cool with ice packs in the high temperatures.

To further contain the polio outbreak, another nationwide vaccination campaign was undertaken from 18 to 22 January 2014, targeting more than 8 million children under age 5.


 

 

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