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Yellow fever vaccine crisis hits City Hall

Thursday January 30 2020

A woman receives yellow fever vaccination.

A woman receives yellow fever vaccination. PHOTO | COURTESY 

KEVIN ROTICH
By KEVIN ROTICH
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JOHN MUTUA
By JOHN MUTUA
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A shortage of yellow fever vaccine at City Hall since October has disrupted plans of many Kenyans seeking to travel abroad.

A spot check by the Business Daily since Monday showed that dozens of Kenyans were being turned away and forced to pay more to get the jab at airports.

A nurse at the Nairobi County’s innoculation centre, who sought anonymity, said the last time City Hall had supplies for the vaccine was in late October, adding that they had not received any fresh stocks despite making requisitions to health authorities.

City Hall charges Sh3,000, up from the previous Sh2,500, for the vaccine that is mandatory for all people seeking to travel to countries that are considered to be vulnerable to yellow fever.

The same dose goes for $50 or about Sh5,043 at the airports.

Kenya is one of the eastern, central, western and southern African countries the World Health Organisation considers to be prone to the disease, making the yellow fever vaccine a must-have for any traveller to or from these nations.

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“The last time we had the vaccine was in October last year and the supplies did not even last a month; we have made requisitions to the authorities (City Hall) but we do not know what is happening,” the nurse told the Business Daily.

Yellow fever is transmitted by a mosquito called Aedes Aegyti which is associated with tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Some of the symptoms associated with the disease include headaches, fever, fatigue, vomiting, jaundice of eyes and skins.

County Health Executive Vesca Kagongo, while admitting shortage of the vaccine at City Hall, said a slow procurement process “that has since been completed” had caused the delay.

“It (shortage) is a serious problem but we could not break the rules. We have since completed and issued an LPO (local procurement order). We are expecting supplies by next week,” she told the Business Daily on Wednesday.

The shortage comes at a time Uganda has issued a red alert following an outbreak of the disease and directed that all travellers into the country should show proof of receiving the vaccination.

The outbreak, reported last week in the mid-western and northwestern parts of the country, has so far claimed three lives, raising fears that the disease could spread into Kenya.

Ms Kagongo said that the county is open to seeking the supplies from other facilities apart from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).

City Hall is currently in a stand-off with Kemsa over a Sh309.3 million debt for drug supplies made since 2014, leading to a temporary suspension of drugs delivery to its health facilities last year.

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