Kenya launches polio vaccination drive

Kenyan officials launched a polio vaccination campaign in 22 districts on Saturday in areas considered highly at risk of outbreak due to their proximity to neighboring countries that have recently suffered polio outbreaks.

Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo has implored guardians and parents to let health workers administer the polio vaccine, Capital News Kenya reports.

The districts most affected by the polio vaccination are Nyanza, Western Kenya and the Rift Valley.

“We don’t want any children in our country or region to be paralyzed because of polio,” Mugo said, according to Capital News Kenya. “We urge our neighbors to strengthen their health systems, even as we strengthen ours, so that we can protect our children.”

The vaccination campaign, schedule to end in January, follows a recent outbreak in neighboring Uganda that occurred in mid-October. The campaign is supported by UNICEF, the WHO and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation. It targets Kenya's approximately 900,000 children under the age of five.

The first round of vaccinations began in Busia, Western Kenya, on Saturday, with the second round running from the December 11-15. The third round will occur between the January 15-19. Health workers will give the polio vaccine to all children under five by moving from house to house.

“This is a call to all partners to rally behind the government to contain the spread of polio,” UNICEF Kenya Representative Olivia Yambi said, according to Capital News Kenya. “Any single child affected by polio is one too many.”