Parents and guardians in Kenya have been called upon to take all children 9 months to 14 years to the nearest Health Facility or Immunization Post from Monday 16th to Tuesday 24th May 2016 for the measles-rubella vaccination.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health has rolled out the Measles-Rubella-Tetanus immunization exercise that targets 19 million children aged 9 months to 14 years. The exercise, which will take place in all public health facilities as well as identified churches and schools in the country will run from Monday 16th to Tuesday 24th May 2016. The exercise will not be carried out door to door because the vaccines need to be stored under certain conditions.
Deformity and other serious birth defects
The Rubella vaccine will be administered for the first time in the country. This is because many cases of the disease have been especially by expectant women, and this consequently causes deformity and other serious birth defects to the unborn child. The campaign also seeks to help the country progress towards global measles and rubella control and elimination goals. Countries in the African Region have established the goal to eliminate measles by 2020.
According to Collins Tabu from the Unit of Vaccines and Immunization Services, Ministry of Health, Rubella is a leading cause of congenital defects, with 100,000 cases being reported in developing countries annually.
“Deaths and Disabilities from Measles and Rubella are completely preventable. If a critical number of people within a community are vaccinated against a particular illness, the entire community is less likely to get the disease-herd immunity,” said Tabu.
Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri has said that the exercise will seek to ensure maternal child survival and improve immunization coverage from the current 80 per cent to 95 per cent in Kenya.
“This 2016 campaign serves as a catch up campaign to capture children unimmunized from measles disease either due to reasons of vaccine efficiency levels or due lack of being routinely vaccinated,” said Muraguri.
Rubella just as measles is a highly infectious disease and humans are the only reservoir. The first measles campaign in Kenya was conducted in 2002 where nearly 14 million children between the ages of 9 months and 14 years were vaccinated. The second campaign in 2012 targeted nearly 6 million children aged 6 months and 3 years.