There have been recent outbreaks of infectious diseases in Kenya in the last 3 years. Increased infections with previously controlled diseases.
Vaccines are made from dead or modified germs that are harmless to the human body. These vaccines are given early to prepare your immune system against future attack by the actual germ. The vaccines work by tricking the body’s immune defence into thinking that an infection has occurred. The immune defence system attacks the vaccine and prepares itself for future infections. By doing this the body is not overwhelmed when the actual infection happens.seases like polio and
measles has created some concern about how we can protect ourselves during these epidemics. Vaccinations are the best way to keep your children protected from these outbreaks.
Vaccines for children
There are several vaccines for children. However, the main vaccines found in the Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunization (KEPI) are:
- Given at birth:
1) BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) Vaccine: This is given as single injection under the skin of the right upper arm. BCG helps protect the child against Tuberculosis (Tb).
2) Polio Vaccine: This can either be given as an injection or through mouth drops. It helps protect the child against poliomyelitis (polio) that causes crippling in children.
- Given at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age:
When the baby is 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks they are given 2 vaccines during those intervals. The vaccines are:
1) Pentavalent Vaccine: This is a vaccine that contains a combination of 5 vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae. This is where the vaccine derives the prefix “penta” which means five. The last two vaccines were introduced later.
2) Polio Vaccine: The second, third and fourth rounds of the polio vaccine are given during these 3 rounds. Your children can safely receive the polio booster any time before they are 5 years old.
3) Pneumococcal Vaccine: This was introduced in 2012. This vaccine helps to prevent pneumonia.
- Given at 9 months of age:
The measles vaccine is given at 9 months of age. Since birth, the baby has protection against measles which they have inherited from their mother. This protection begins to wane at about 9 months and the child requires their own vaccine. Measles kills more children than any other vaccine preventable disease. A booster of the measles vaccine can be given before 2 years just in case the child’s immune system did not respond properly to the first vaccine.
The measles vaccine can be combined with two other vaccines and given at 9 months. The additional vaccines are against mumps and rubella which are both caused by viruses. Mumps leads to painful and swollen salivary glands and may lead to infection of a boy’s testes. Rubella is also known as German measles that causes general malaise and fever.
In areas of Kenya where yellow fever is present the yellow fever vaccine is given at the age of 9 months. Yellow fever is a disease that causes the destruction of blood. The virus causing yellow fever is transmitted by mosquito.
- Every 6 months up to 5 years:
Children should have Vitamin A supplementation as part of building their immunity. Vitamin A is a vitamin found in foods like breast milk, carrots, liver, eggs and fish. However poor diets lead to Vitamin A deficiency that makes children susceptible to infection. Also the use of Vitamin A reduces the deaths from measles by 50%.
- Yellow fever vaccine
- other Vaccines
- Rota Virus Vaccine: Rota Virus leads to diarrhoea and vomiting with a high risk of dehydration and death. The vaccine is given orally in 2 or 3 doses at 2 months, 4 months and at times 6 months.
- Flu vaccine: The flu is caused by the influenza that may lead to pneumonia in children. This vaccine is given as an injection annually especially before the season when there will be cold weather