Kenya: Vaccine Shortage Exposes Thousands of Babies to Polio

Photo: The Daily Nation

A child receives polio vaccine at Hagadera Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Garissa County (file photo).

By the end of Monday, Kenya’s birth registry might have recorded about 3,154 newborns.

However, none of these infants will receive an oral polio vaccine as the shortage just for This specific along with two some other vital boosters enters the second month.

This specific comes even as the government prepares for a four-day polio vaccination campaign targeting 2.6 million children under the age of 5 in Mombasa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Marsabit, Isiolo, Turkana, Nairobi, Wajir, Garissa along with Mandera.

Meanwhile, private hospitals have been creating big bucks as Kenyans pay Sh8,000 to Sh20,000 to have their children vaccinated.

Based on the Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunisation (Kepi), the polio vaccine is actually given through the mouth in three doses along with an injection at three along using a half months.


The oral polio vaccine is actually given at birth along with at six along with 10 weeks. The babies then receive an injectable vaccine at 14 weeks.

The measles vaccine on the some other hand is actually administered at nine along with 18 months. Polio is actually a crippling along with potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus.

The virus can attack person’s brain along with spinal cord, causing paralysis.

“I took my son to hospital along with he received all the some other vaccines except polio. The doctor gave me the option going with him unvaccinated or paying Sh8,000 for the injection,” a distraught parent told the Nation.

The shortage has seen private hospitals provide baby friendly vaccines at an extra cost as parents are left without a choice.

Private hospitals stock government issued vaccines along with baby friendly versions of the dose.

Baby friendly vaccines usually address pain along with the general discomfort children experience whenever they are vaccinated.

On April 6, 2018, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) scientists found live polio viruses in sewage samples through Eastleigh estate, Nairobi.

Health workers who spoke to the Nation yesterday said public hospitals have been experiencing a shortage of measles, mumps along with rubella (MMR) along with tetanus toxoid vaccines.

As a result, women with babies are usually turned away along with requested to keep checking if the vaccines are available.

The shortages have been experienced since March, compelling doctors to exhaust all the doses in stock.


The grim situation exposes the lives of millions of children to life-threatening conditions or even death.

“We receive very few doses whenever we place orders. Last week, for example, we dispatched a modest package of 400 doses of the oral polio vaccine to two sub-counties in Makueni. These doses cannot last a week,” a senior nurse at one of the sub-counties’ division of vaccines along with immunisation told the Nation.

As a result of the shortage, only Level 5 hospitals are getting the vaccines.

This specific is actually despite the Health Ministry saying of which has put in place necessary measures to ensure the availability of the vaccines in all parts of the country.

In a statement issued last week, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said there is actually enough supply of the vaccines in Kenya to last For 2 months.


Efforts to reach concerned government officials were fruitless as our calls went unanswered.

Health workers say whenever they make inquiries, store managers remain non committal.

“of which is actually our duty to protect these children. of which breaks my heart every time I turn away a mother without administering the vaccine to her child,” a nurse told the Nation.

A prolonged health workers’ strike last year cost the country its gains in immunisation coverage, with Kenya recording a 15-year low of 63 per cent.

According to the 2018 Economic Survey, the coverage dropped by eight per cent through 1,101,279 (69 per cent) immunised children in 2016 to 1,014,894 (63 per cent).

Kenya: Vaccine Shortage Exposes Thousands of Babies to Polio

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