Kenyans urged to take children for HPV vaccine, immunization schedules as numbers fall
Kenyans have been urged to take their children for immunization schedules after health facilities recorded low numbers following service disruption due to coronavirus.
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi said in the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous year count of 640,000 children fell to 625,000.
“In addition, there has been a severe decline in coverage of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine for 10-year-old girls which currently stands at 46%,” she said during a Press briefing on Thursday.
According to Dr. Mwangangi, all vaccines are available at health centres countrywide.
She urged parents and guardians to ensure that 10-year-old girls receive two doses of the HPV vaccine and infants complete their vaccination schedules.
For children, this includes two doses of measles rubella vaccine by the time they are 2-years-old.
The free HPV vaccine was launched in October last year with 800,000 girls in Kenya targeted to receive it.
“Cancer of the Cervix, is the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in Kenya. Nine women die from cervical Cancer in Kenya alone, every day. This is one too many! Cervical cancer is now preventable through vaccination,” Health CS Sicily Kariuki said at the time.
She noted that in Kenya, cancer is the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.
115 countries have so far incorporated the HPV vaccine in their routine immunization schedules.
Rwanda was among the first countries to launch the vaccine in 2006.
On Thursday, Dr. Mwangangi noted that Kenya has so far managed to eliminate various childhood diseases such as tetanus and Wild Polio Virus.
This she said was done through the National Immunization Program together with development partners.
Dr. Mwangangi further cited expansion of immunization programs through introduction of 6 vaccines in the past decade which she said contributed to the reduction of child diseases and deaths.
“These vaccines are available free of charge through a network 9,500 health facilities consisting of public, private, faith-based and non-governmental organizations,” she said.
Last year, the Health Ministry recorded an improvement in the coverage of immunization services with a national average of 83%.