Kenya has restarted its vaccination program in an effort to address the reappearance of measles, which has increased in the country during the Covid restrictions.
A 10-day campaign against highly contagious measles and rubella has begun targeting 4 million children aged nine months to five years in 22 of the 47 counties in Kenya where outbreaks are highest.
Measles is the “third most common cause of death among children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” the Health Ministry said. In 2020, only 85% of children in the East African country had received the first dose of the vaccine and less than 50% had received the second.
The exercise It will involve 16,000 health workers in 5,061 vaccination centers.
TO evaluation conducted in Kenya with the support of the World Health Organization showed a large increase in the number of unvaccinated children. “The unprecedented increase in the number of unvaccinated children, the accumulation of susceptible children to more than 2.1 million and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has helped the outbreaks,” the ministry said.
According to WHO, at least 95% coverage of combined MCV1 and MCV2 vaccines is needed to prevent outbreaks. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, the level of the first doses given has stagnant by 69% since 2013. “Only seven countries in the region achieved 95% measles vaccine coverage in 2019,” WHO said.
Kenya’s 4 million children are among 16.6 million in Africa who missed supplemental measles vaccination between January 2020 and April 2021, according to WHO.
In April, the WHO reported major measles outbreaks in eight African countries affecting “tens of thousands” as efforts to contain Covid took center stage.
“Children under the age of five can die from complications of measles and if the circulation of the virus is not stopped, their risk of exposure increases daily. We know that vaccination is by far the best way to keep these children safe.” Maniza Zaman said. UNICEF representative in Kenya.
The WHO also reported that “the quality of measles surveillance in Africa fell to the lowest level in seven years in 2020, with only 11 countries meeting its target.”
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said: “Recent outbreaks of measles, but also yellow fever, cholera and meningitis, point to worrisome gaps in immunization coverage and surveillance in Africa. As we fight Covid-19, we cannot leave anyone dangerously exposed to preventable diseases. I urge all countries to redouble essential health services, including life-saving vaccination campaigns. “
According to the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of measles cases worldwide more than quadrupled, reaching the highest level in 23 years, from 132,490 in 2016 to 869,770 in 2019. Mortality rates almost doubled, with 207,500 deaths reported.