The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Unicef is set to offer vaccinations to millions of people in at least 12 counties following the outbreak of yellow fever in Kenya.
In a statement, the acting director-general for health Dr Patrick Amoth said they would begin the vaccination in the counties of Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Meru, Samburu, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Turkana, and possibly Tana River and Mandera which are considered high-risk.
The head of the disease surveillance and response unit Dr Emmanuel Okunga said the vaccinations shall begin as early as next week.
“Routine immunization of children continues but response vaccination will happen most likely within two weeks,” Dr Okunga said.
The outbreak, announced on Friday last week was first confirmed on January 12, however, the ministry has not explained why it kept quiet for two months.
At least three people have been killed by the disease, while 15 others are suspected to have contracted the illness.
Yellow fever is a viral disease spread by a mosquito, and can be fatal or cause serious illness, with most people recovering.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, but the vaccine is highly effective and offers lifelong protection after just one dose.
According to statistics, this is the second reported outbreak in Kenya.
In the first outbreak which occurred between 1992 and 1993, only 26 people were confirmed to have been infected with the disease while six people died.
However, epidemiological investigations strongly suggested that reported cases and deaths were underestimated.
“Given that three percent of the yellow fever cases present with jaundice, yellow fever illness in this outbreak may have attacked at least 800 persons,” researchers concluded in a study published by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
In March 2016, Kenya also reported two yellow fever cases in travelers who had contracted the disease in Angola, but there was no local transmission.