Lab declares polio vaccine safe

Tuesday August 4 2015

Deputy President William Ruto administers a polio vaccine to seven-month-old Shantel Chepkorir at Ngeria Girls Secondary School in Kapsaret Constituency on August 1, 2015. The polio vaccine currently being administered to children under the age of five is safe, the National Quality Control Laboratory has said. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Deputy President William Ruto administers a polio vaccine to seven-month-old Shantel Chepkorir at Ngeria Girls Secondary School in Kapsaret Constituency on August 1, 2015. The polio vaccine currently being administered to children under the age of five is safe, the National Quality Control Laboratory has said. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

 EUNICE KILONZO
By EUNICE KILONZO
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BENARD OGEMBO
By BENARD OGEMBO
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The polio vaccine currently being administered to children under the age of five is safe, the National Quality Control Laboratory has said.

This comes after the Catholic Church raised concerns about the safety of the vaccine. The church had asked for testing of the vaccine to check whether it has any contaminants.

Dr Hezekiah Chepkwony, head of the lab, said yesterday: “We conducted tests on the polio vaccine, and we can confirm they are free of any impurities. We want to assure Kenyans that the vaccine is safe”

He added: “We carried out the tests on July 31, before the campaign in 32 counties.”

Dr Chepkwony said the lab had always invited representatives from the Catholic Church in joint testing of some vaccines but they pulled out during sampling. He said they were not present during the testing of the polio vaccine.

The lab tested seven batches of the vaccine, including the ones being used in the current campaign as well as those for the routine immunisation at clinics and hospitals. The vaccines were all manufactured in India.

Nearly 6 million children in 32 counties will be vaccinated against polio. The devolved units were selected after a risk analysis in January.

The study showed that 66 per cent of the population, particularly children, were most at risk of the viral infection. A polio campaign was then launched, The first phase started on Saturday and ends today. The other runs from August 29 to September 2.

The Health ministry launched the first round of the vaccination drive in Gilgil, Nakuru County, on Saturday. The campaign is targeting 381,000 children in the devolved unit.

The Nakuru officer in charge of polio vaccination, Dr Ego Ogere, criticised religious leaders opposed to the campaign, saying they were being insincere and were misleading the public.

He warned parents of dire consequences if they fail to take their children for vaccination.

“We will arrest and prosecute all the parents who will deny their children the vaccine,” he said.

“Some of the religious leaders do not have children yet they are misleading the public.”

Catholic bishops on Friday asked all Kenyans not to participate in the polio vaccination campaign until the manufacturers’ declaratory documents are produced, and the recommended sampling and testing undertaken to confirm that the vaccine is safe.