KENYA— The Ministry of Health’s State Department for Medical Services has assured the public that it is taking urgent steps to ensure that eligible children do not miss vaccinations during this critical period.

This assurance was made by Mr. Harry Kimtai, Principal Secretary for Medical Services at the Ministry of Health, following a meeting with representatives from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to discuss critical vaccine issues in Kenya.

This development comes in response to earlier reports of vaccine shortages in parts of the country, with less than two months of stock available nationally for traditional vaccines such as the BCG Vaccine, Oral Polio Vaccine, and Measles Rubella Vaccine.

Additionally, stock levels for most other routine childhood vaccines, including those supported by Gavi (Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, HPV, and Malaria vaccines), are low, with only three to six months of stock available.

A week earlier, Dr. Supa Tunje, the National Chairperson of the Kenya Paediatric Association (KPA), issued a statement highlighting a shortage of essential vaccines for newborns and children under five.

Dr. Tunje cited budget cuts and unpaid debts to vaccine suppliers as the major reasons for this shortage, warning that these cuts threaten the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) and could reverse the decline in childhood mortality and rates of disease.

Her statement was echoed by the Council of Governors, which reported outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in some counties.

According to the Kenya Paediatric Association, this crisis threatens the health and future of 1.6 million infants, a similar number of pregnant women, and 750,000 ten-year-old girls.

Childhood vaccination is a proven and cost-effective way to prevent disease, yielding immeasurable returns. The current crisis jeopardizes the hard-earned progress against preventable diseases.

In his statement, Mr KImtai stated that the Ministry is actively monitoring vaccine consumption at all levels nationwide and facilitating redistribution between counties to alleviate the stock-out situation through the National Vaccines and Immunization Program (NVIP).

He also revealed that the Ministry is engaging with UNICEF to expedite the delivery of vaccines ordered after the last payment, with an additional Ksh 1.25 billion (US$9.416 million) set aside to urgently procure routine antigens and replenish the lifesaving vaccines in health facilities.

Furthermore, the Ministry, with support from Gavi, is exploring innovative options for sustainable financing of vaccine procurement and program operations.

This includes engaging the National Treasury to ensure increased and dedicated resources are allocated to the immunization program and ring-fencing domestic resources to ensure sustainable financing for immunization, especially as donor support for vaccines continues to decrease.

The Ministry also stated that it is coordinating closely with healthcare workers and keeping them informed on measures to alleviate the current situation.

Caregivers are advised to liaise closely with their healthcare providers and bring their children back to the facilities once stock levels have normalized.

Mr. Kimtai concluded by expressing the Ministry’s commitment to the health and well-being of all Kenyans and affirmed that they are working diligently to address any challenges in the immunization program.

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