Free rotavirus vaccine: the reason why I am happy this cold Monday morning!

I always love the first day of the month for one simple reason and I know I am not alone in this- it is payday and by the powers conferred to my wallet I will be empowered to make purchasing choices!

This first July will fall on a Tuesday and for the Pizza lovers; it is terrific Tuesday where you ‘buy one- get-one free’ I can imagine the traffic at Pizza Inn this terrific Tuesday. That makes me love this 1st July more! But what makes the day even more special to the extend that I am singing Pharrell’s Happy song is because starting 1st July, ROTA VIRUS vaccine will be introduced into the national routine immunization schedule in the country, targeting 1.4 million children under 1 year of age for free. This vaccine will be given to all children who are 6 weeks old just like any other childhood vaccine.

The Ministry of Health, through the Unit of Vaccine and Immunization Services and with the support of health partners such as GAVI Alliance, World Health Organization and UNICEF will For the very first time, offer the vaccine in all public health facilities for free. Before 1st July, the vaccine was offered at 5,000 shillings for 2 doses an amount that is way too exorbitant for many Kenyan moms living below the poverty line.

Currently, diarrheal illness is the second most common cause of deaths of children under 5 years of age after Acute Respiratory illness. Rota virus is the most common cause of these diarrheal illnesses, with almost half of the hospitalizations and deaths from diarrhea associated with it.

note-rotavirus

According to the 2013 progress report by UNICEF called Committing to child survival: a promise renewed, 73 children out of 1,000 births in Kenya die before age 5. Kenya is second in East Africa Community Bloc after Burundi with 104 births out of 1,000. Uganda is at 69, Rwanda at 55 and Tanzania at 54 out of 1,000 births. Therefore, Introduction of free rota virus vaccine, together with other interventions will reduce the disease burden in terms of childhood mobility and mortality and significantly contribute to the attainment of MDG 4.

 

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