Why Nyamira topped in measles vaccine uptake

measles, measles jab, vaccination, immunisation

A child is given a measles vaccine.

Photo credit: FILE

What you need to know:

  • Nyamira registered such an impressive uptake of the second dose of measles jab because of the vital role community health volunteers play in urging and encouraging people to take their young ones for immunisation.
  • According to the ministry, Nyamira residents are more open to community outreach programmes.


The Ministry of Health has disclosed that Nyamira County reported the highest vaccination coverage for the second dose of measles at 89.5 per cent while Mandera registered the lowest coverage at 20.5 per cent.    

While urging Kenyans to present their children for immunisation as the country observed this year’s World / Africa Immunisation Week themed ‘Long Life For All’, Dr Lucy Mecca, head of the National Vaccine and Immunisation Programme at the ministry, observed that vaccines work by stimulating the body response to produce an immune response.

World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

“Immunisation has resulted in a dramatic reduction of deaths from diseases such as measles, small pox and maternal neonatal tetanus that previously ravaged populations. In Kenya, the government has managed to reduce disease burden by 70 per cent in the last two decades through immunisation,” she highlighted.

In an exclusive interview with Healthy Nation, Dr Mecca explained that Nyamira County registered such an impressive uptake of the second dose of measles jab because of the vital role community health volunteers play in urging and encouraging people to take their young ones for immunisation.

“The volunteers are very instrumental not only for measles but also HPV and other vaccinations.”

According to the ministry, Nyamira residents are more open to community outreach programmes.

The government launched the Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign last year in July after a nationwide risk assessment identified 22 counties as being at a very high risk following an active measles outbreak in West Pokot.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can result in severe complications particularly in children below five years. The complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea, ear infections and pneumonia.

“This is why it is important that all children under the age of five receive two doses of the Measles Rubella vaccine and for those who have missed a dose, they can go to any of our health facilities,” Dr Mecca said, pointing out that for the first dose of the Measles Rubella vaccine, most counties are between 50 per cent to 80 per cent in terms of uptake.

“For the second dose, most are below 50 per cent, which is worrying because it is in some of these counties where we have registered measles outbreaks. We hope to reduce the number of zero dose children (those unvaccinated for Pentavalent 1, who are about 100, 000) as well as increase coverage of the second dose of Measles Rubella to 95 per cent,” said Dr Mecca.

Pentavalent vaccine provides protection to a child from five life-threatening diseases – Diphtheria, Pertussis ((whooping cough), Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTP-hepB-Hib).

Dr Collins Taabu, the former head of the National Vaccine and Immunisation Programme at the Health ministry, who is now a health advisor at United Nations Children’s Fund, lauded community outreach efforts across the country.

“The goal is to encourage people and their communities to show up for vaccination so they can be protected. Community outreaches and community-based organisations need to intensify these immunisation programmes and as stakeholders we need to be in charge of our future by taking the lead on immunisations, he said.

“We have put vaccines in our service delivery points and health facilities and wish to remind that children above two years who have not received both doses of Measles Rubella should be presented there,” Dr Mecca urged.

Dr Taabu added that community stakeholders need to be ready to tailor strategies that intensify vaccinations by demystifying and debunking myths around immunisation.

According to the WHO, children who have not been vaccinated against measles are at a high risk of getting infected and even dying from this disease. However, the WHO says the majority of deaths related to measles come out of the complications that are associated with the disease. “Serious complications are more common in children under the age of five, or adults over the age of 30,” states the WHO.

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