Ministry reassures public vaccines are available

Thursday June 27 2019

Health CS Sicily Kariuki

Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki acknowledged that there was a shortage of the polio vaccine, but added there were enough supplies to last two months as the ministry awaits a new consignment to ensure an uninterrupted supply. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ELIZABETH MERAB
By ELIZABETH MERAB
More by this Author

The Ministry of Health has taken the necessary measures to ensure that all vaccines are available. Whereas Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki Wednesday acknowledged that there was a shortage of the polio vaccine, she added there were enough supplies to last two months as the ministry awaits a new consignment to ensure an uninterrupted supply.

ADEQUATE STOCKS

“At the moment, there are doses of polio and measles-rubella vaccines to last two-months as new consignments are expected between today and mid-next month,” the minister said in a statement.

The available polio vaccines can last 1.9 months from today, translating to 1,130,000 doses, against a monthly reservoir requirement of 596,000.

A further 600,000 doses have been procured and the batch is expected to arrive country today, with a further 2,254,000 expected in the second week of July.

She further noted that there were adequate stocks of the measles-rubella vaccine, with 2.4 months’ worth of stock of 1,148,000 doses against a monthly reservoir requirement of 477,000.

Health workers across the country have reported a shortage of the life-saving vaccines. Nurses the Nation talked to said many public health facilities in several counties lacked the polio, measles-rubella and tetanus toxoid vaccines.

A shortage means that children who are not vaccinated are left vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and measles.

The oral polio vaccine is given to newborns at birth, at six weeks and 10 weeks, before they receive an injectable version at 14 weeks. The measles vaccine is administered at nine and 18 months.

LIFE-THREATENING

The shortage exposes children under five years to life-threatening conditions or even death. Without the vaccine, Kenya’s hopes of being certified as a polio-free country are pushed further back.

But Ms Kariuki insisted that the vaccines were available, advising mothers to take their children to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents and the communities of the availability of these vaccines and urge them to take their children for immunisation,” the CS added.

On April 6, 2018, Kenya Medical Research Institute personnel found live polio viruses in sewage samples from Nairobi’s Eastleigh section during a routine investigation.

Health workers, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, confirmed that they had turned away mothers because they did not have the vaccines in stock.

“The shortage has been there since March, but our stock ran out at the beginning of this month,” said a nurse at a public hospital. “Whenever we place orders, we receive between 500 and 1,000 doses, against more than 40 facilities.”