The Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF and WHO, is set to immunise all children aged five years and below against polio, in 12 selected counties.
The five-day campaign kicks off on July 11 and runs up to July 15.
This is an emergency polio response campaign by the ministry and its partners after the virus was discovered in the country.
High risk counties targeted for immunisation campaign
In a bid to stem the risk of the polio virus spreading across the country, the ministry is immunising children in 12 counties it has identified as high risk.
These counties are: Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kitui, Machakos, Meru, Isiolo, Tana River, Lamu, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.
During the campaign period, health workers will move from house to house in these counties to vaccinate all children under the age of five years.
Appeal to families, communities
The Ministry of Health has appealed to all members of the public to help make the campaign a huge success.
The appeal is to families with children aged five years and below to present the young ones for immunisation.
Neighbours should spread this message and report any children who have not been immunised.
Every parent or guardian is asked to ensure their child is vaccinated in every campaign.
They should also make sure the children receive all the scheduled childhood vaccines at a health facility.
No cure against polio, but immunisation works
The campaign is a major initiative to eradicate polio, a viral disease that has no cure.
Immunisation through safe and effective vaccines offers children full protection against polio.
All vaccines offered by the Ministry of Health are tested, safe, effective and approved by World Health Organisation (WHO).
Additionally, all medical supplies and commodities—including vaccines that are used in the country— must undergo rigorous quality control testing procedures by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (National Quality Control laboratory).
Several doses of the vaccine provide additional protection and boost the immunity of children without any harm.
Why immunise against polio
Polio is a deadly disease. It can paralyse and even cause death.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed existence of polio virus in the country.
Further, a routine polio risk analysis revealed that several counties are at high risk of polio transmission due to low immunisation coverage.
This puts everyone in Kenya, and especially children, at high risk of getting Polio.
The strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunising every child until transmission of the virus stops and the world is polio-free.
Why immunise children who have been immunised before?
All children must receive the polio vaccine every time there is a campaign, regardless of if the child has received the vaccine before.
Extra doses given during vaccination campaigns give valuable additional immunity against polio.
Polio vaccine has no harm when administered multiple times.
How polio is transmitted
Polio enters the body through water or food that has been contaminated with infected stool. Polio spreads easily throughout communities.
Infected individuals shed poliovirus into the environment for several weeks, where it can spread rapidly through a community, especially in areas of poor sanitation and hygiene.
Young children who are not yet toilet-trained are a ready source of transmission, regardless of their environment.
However, every child is at risk of being infected.
For this reason, all children under the age of five years must be vaccinated.
Symptoms of polio infection
Most people infected with the poliovirus have no signs of illness and are never aware they have been infected.
These symptomless people carry the virus in their intestines and can “silently” spread the infection to thousands of others before the first case of polio paralysis emerges.
Most infected people (90 per cent) have no symptoms or very mild symptoms and usually go unrecognised.
In others, initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.
Why maintain environmental surveillance against polio
The Ministry of Health routinely collects samples from sewage systems in residential areas for testing for the presence of polio virus.
Environmental surveillance is very important in early detection of new polio virus.
It helps the Ministry of Health identify areas where individuals infected by the virus, are excreting it in their stool and into the sewage but are not showing any signs of paralysis and risk transmitting the infection to others.