In Kenya, a mother's tale of protection through vaccination

A mother’s arms are made of tenderness, protection and love

Joy Wanja Muraya
A mother carrying her baby outside their home.
20 July 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya, 20 July 2018 - Ruth Kavuu braved the July chills in Nairobi and strapped her three month old son on her back and the other three year old was in hand as she traced the polio vaccinators in her neighborhood.

She lives in Chokaa area, Njiru in Nairobi with her husband and their two sons, Ethan Wafula and Karl Simiyu.

Her husband leaves home at the first ray of light to fend for them, while Ruth manages their household.

Ruth has a strong sense of responsibility and when the second round of the polio immunization campaign was launched on Wednesday in 12 target counties, including Nairobi where she lives, she went in search of the team of vaccinators the next day.

Protection for life

She wants her children counted as little warriors to fight the deadly polio virus.

Her older son, Karl, has received all the routine immunizations including those given during the previous polio immunization campaigns.

“I have heard the messages on radio and heard the information through the speakers in our neighborhood. I want my children to be protected against the paralyzing disease," says Ruth.

On this day Karl approached the vaccinators with keenness and didn’t let go a chance to ask questions. He is an innocent and curious young boy.

“What are you giving my brother?” He asked Christine Akinyi, the polio campaign volunteer, as he watched the two drops of a clear liquid disappear into his little brother’s mouth.

‘Ethan is getting medicine so that he doesn’t get sick. Do you want some too, so that you can grow up as a big, strong and healthy boy?” Christine asked the inquisitive boy.

“Yes I do, So that I can play football the whole day, every day,’ Karl said as he came closer and opened his mouth for his dose.

And his little brother got a mark on his little finger.

The next few minutes, he got his two drops of the polio vaccine and enthusiastically offered his pinkie for the indelible mark.

A boy shows his marked finger after being immunized.
Karl shows off his marked finger after receiving the polio vaccine at his home in Njiru, Nairobi.

"Polio has no cure, but there are safe and effective oral vaccines to prevent polio. UNICEF has made immunization a priority for all children, especially those who are at the highest risk of getting diseases which are completely preventable."

Patrizia DiGiovanni, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Kenya

A promising and healthy future

Christine advised mothers and guardians to ensure their children below five years get the polio vaccine.

She stressed the importance of the polio vaccinators who are dedicated and ensure that every child is covered.

‘The volunteers moving from door to door explained that if my children get the polio vaccine every time it is offered, they get additional protection from polio, a very serious disease.

What is polio?

Polio is a very serious disease that can paralyze and even cause death. Polio enters the body through water or food that has been contaminated with infected stool. Polio spreads very easily throughout communities hence the need to prevent polio through the vaccine.

After her sons got the life-saving vaccine, Ruth is happy. Contented that she has taken a step to secure her children’s healthy future.