Worrying trend as cases of measles on the rise

Thursday August 01 2019

A child is vaccinated against measles-rubella in Shinyalu, Kakamega County. Cases of measles are rising. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The number of measles cases reported in the country in the last year has gone up from 63 in 2017 to 822 cases in 2018, according to data released on Friday.

The data, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF as of July 1, also indicated that the vaccination coverage for measles in the country decreased in the last three years.

In the last one year from 2017 to 2018, the number of children who received the first dose of measles vaccination reduced from 97 percent in 2016 and stagnated at 90 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

However, from the data, most of the children are not getting their second dosage of measles vaccination, which started being available from 2015.

From 2015, the second dosage coverage stood at 32 percent, but increased to 42 percent in 2018.



Measles disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years however global coverage with the first dose of the vaccine has stalled at 85 percent.

This is far short of the 95 percent needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people exposed to the disease.

Second dose coverage stands at 67 percent whereas Kenyan it is at 42 percent, way below the required percentage needed to prevent outbreaks.

This means that most of the children in the country could be missing the lifesaving vaccines that prevent them from getting diseases in the future.

According to WHO data, in 2018 more than one in 10 missed out on lifesaving vaccines such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus.


Globally, since 2010, vaccination coverage with three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) and one dose of the measles vaccine has stalled at around 86 percent.

This is not sufficient. 95 percent coverage is needed globally to protect against outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

However, in Kenya, for the last 10 years, there was no case of diphtheria reported. In 2001, the country reported six cases and these were the last cases reported.

On tetanus, the number of reported incidents has reduced from 2,776 in 2016 to zero in 2018. “Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.