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City among most polio-risky areas in the country

Nairobi has been highlighted among regions at risk of polio infections even as the immunisation drive continues.

According to County Chief Health Officer Dr Robert Ayisi, Nairobi is an entry point to thousands of people through its airports, increasing infection chances.

In addition, the city neighbours regions where polio cases were reported last year.

“We’ve not heard of any case in Nairobi and that is why the campaign must be intensified,” said Dr Ayisi.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health Mr James Macharia said polio cases which were reported in the country were from neighbouring countries experiencing turmoil, including Somalia and South Sudan.

Doubts raised

Fourteen cases were reported last year. The first case was reported at the Dadaab camp, home to thousands of refugees from Somalia. About 183 cases were reported in Somalia during the same period.

“As movement surges at the Kenya-Somali and Kenya-South Sudan border, precautions are necessary,” said Dr Ayisi.

He said any new arrival in the country poses some risk.

On the other hand, doctors have said it is safe for children to have multiple polio immunisations.

This was after doubts were expressed about the effectiveness of the vaccine after the government directed parents to have their children immunised regardless of whether the children had received the jab before.

“There is no problem having the children vaccinated more than once. It is just improves their immunity,” said Dr C Maina, a paediatrician.

Due to cross-border transmission, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a boost of polio vaccine in adults travelling to Djibouti, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Yemen or those going who work in healthcare facilities and refugee camps.