By Derrick Kiplagat
The polio vaccine that has faced much opposition from the Catholic Church has now been declared safe by the National Quality Control Laboratory. The vaccine is to be administered to over 6 million children around the country within 32 counties marked as Polio-prone in January during the risk analysis. The announcement comes days after the Catholic Church raised concerns over the safety of the vaccine and the inoculation exercise was planned to kick off. The church had earlier asked for the drug to be tested for any danger causing components.
National Quality Control Laboratory’s Dr. Hezekiah Chepkwony said, “We conducted tests on the polio vaccine and we can confirm they are free of any impurities. We want to assure Kenyans that the vaccine is safe. We carried out the tests on July 31, before the campaign in 32 counties.”
He added that the lab had always invited representatives from the Church in the joint testing of the vaccines but they pulled out during sampling. He said that they were not present during the testing of the polio vaccine. According to reports, the lab tested seven consignments of the vaccine, including the ones being used in the current campaign and also the ones used in the routine immunization at hospitals and dispensaries. All the vaccines were manufactured in India.
The study from the research conducted in January showed that at least 66% of the population mostly children, were at a high risk of getting infected by the virus. A polio campaign to curb the impending situation was then launched and the first phase got underway on Saturday and ends today, followed by the second campaign is set to start on August 29th to September 2nd .
The campaigns were launched by the Ministry of Health in Gilgil, Nakuru County on Saturday. Nakuru officer in charge of the polio vaccination Dr. Ego Ogere criticized leaders opposed to the vaccination, saying they were being insincere and were misleading the public. He warned parents of severe consequences if they failed to take their children for the vaccination.
“We will arrest and prosecute all the parents who will deny their children the vaccine. Some of the religious leaders do not have children yet they are misleading the public,” he said.