VACCINES FOR ALL
by Marion Kwambai
The global COVID-19 pandemic will be recorded in history as one of the worst infectious disease outbreaks in the world and will in turn have an immense impact on children. During the pandemic reports showed that routine immunization and antenatal care services were disrupted due to intense pressure on the national healthcare system. When Halima Adow, 20, went into labour she hoped for a safe delivery of her first child. She was rushed to Wajir Referral Hospital maternity and a few hours later she was overjoyed to hold her healthy baby boy Adnan. Lucky for Halima her hospital delivery meant that her son could receive vital immunizations on time. Many women in the county do not deliver in the hospital due to the long distance to access health facilities and cultural believes where women fear being assisted to deliver by a man.
Halima’s baby received Polio and BCG vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease. According to World Health Organization (WHO) BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children administered by Aden Musa the in-charge from Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Division during his morning round in the maternity wing ward.
She is happy that her son has been immunized to prevent him from contracting preventable diseases in the future.
“I’m glad my son has received his first dose of immunization, and I plan to take him to the nearest facilities to receive the rest according to the schedule that has been explained to me by the medical team,” she explained.
She adds that’s she is a champion of immunization and wishes that all mothers should ensure that all their children are immunized. They should also take advantages of immunization campaigns done by the ministry of health such as the polio campaign.
Adan Musa has been the in charge MCH for 6 months now and he leads his team to conduct immunization in the maternity unit every morning except over the weekend.
He said that on average the hospital vaccinates 20-30 new born children on Tuesdays to Thursday while the get the highest number of clients on Monday and Fridays where they vaccinate up to 50 children.
“Although we are doing well in terms of numbers, we have a challenge with staffing, we are capable of doing so much more in terms of increasing the immunization rates in Wajir County and taking advantage of events such as the World Immunization Week that we have just marked,” he said.
Immunization rates in Wajir County have since increased in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the District Health Information Software (DHIS) report. In the 3 sub-counties we work in Tarbaj, Wajir West and Wajir North the rate of fully immunized children in 2019 was at 57.1%, 58% and 64.9% respectively. In 2020 the rate of fully immunized children was 68.9%, 62.8% and 67.4% respectively.
Save the Children with funding from Pfizer is supporting immunization project that will reduce the needless deaths of children under age 5 in Kenya over three years. This vital work will include; providing technical support for immunization of marginalized populations. Training health workers to improve child health care. Social and behavioural change communications to strengthen community acceptance. National-level support for immunization programming. This project is implemented in 3 sub counties in Wajir County. Wajir North, Wajir West and Tarbaj sub counties.