Government’s 100-day immunization plan to immunize 1.6 million children.
In a 100-day immunization drive, the Health Ministry is targeting 1.6 million children who may have missed out on life-saving vaccines.
The exercise, which is being carried out through the division of national vaccines and immunization programs, aims to increase coverage of all childhood vaccines, including the second dose of measles-rubella.
The ministry also hopes to vaccinate at least 70% of girls aged 10 to 14 with the HPV vaccine, which was first introduced in the country in 2019. The coverage currently stands at 30%.
The exercise began on November 1 and will continue until February 10.
According to ministry data, 300,000 children are denied essential vaccines each year, a gap that the Rapid Results Initiative is attempting to fill.
The HPV vaccine was negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic because the target age group of 10 to 14 years was in school, and when schools were closed for that long period of time, coverage dropped from more than 57% to around 30%,”.
The HPV vaccine for cervical cancer prevention was added to the routine immunization schedule in 2019 with the goal of reaching at least 700,000 girls per year.
Although the ministry strives to reach at least 90% of children with lifesaving vaccines, immunization coverage has remained stable at 80%, with some vaccines, such as HPV and the second dose of measles-rubella, trailing at 30% and 50%, respectively.
According to acting Health Director-General Patrick Amoth, there is a disparity in coverage across counties, with some counties having pentavalent vaccination coverage as low as 60%.
Because of the vaccination gap, several children do not have immunity against these vaccine-preventable diseases. Measles outbreaks continue to occur in various parts of the country, indicating a lack of immunity to measles.
The ministry has made all vaccines available to over 8,000 vaccinating health facilities and urged parents or guardians to ensure their children complete the immunization schedule, including the second dose of measles-rubella, which is administered at 18 months.
According to the head of the national vaccines immunization program, Lucy Mecca, Kenya has introduced previously unavailable vaccines over the last ten years. One in every six children does not receive all of the recommended vaccines. The campaign’s goal is to instil immunity against HPV and measles-rubella.
The campaign will include community health volunteer outreach as well as school-based outreach to girls.