Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Nicholas Muraguri said the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine that protects children against TB is effective in reducing the likelihood and severity of TB and TB meningitis especially in children by up to 80 percent.
“This situation has been occasioned by production delays of BCG at a global level, leading to limited supplies across the African region,” Muraguri said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
He said the arrival of the vaccine is especially important in Kenya where TB is common particularly in urban poor areas, regions with high HIV burden and among nomadic communities.
The shortage of BCG vaccines had put lives of many infants born since December last year at risk of TB, with medics warning the situation was severe in remote areas where there is already little access to maternity and vaccination services.
The ministry said the BCG shortage was due to manufacturing delays experienced across the world.
The BCG is administered to children below 5 years, at birth or at first contact with a healthcare provider as they go to health facilities for other immunization or health services.
Currently, Muraguri said, over 95 percent of children in Kenya are vaccinated with BCG.
Muraguri said the situation has since been remedied with the arrival of 1.3 million doses in the country on Jan. 7. “This is part of larger consignment of 4.7 million ordered in September 2015,” he said.
“The ministry of health would therefore like to reassure parents and the general public that the situation is under control and there is no likelihood of increased spread of Tuberculosis in the country,” he said.
Muraguri also confirmed that the BCG vaccine has undergone the necessary regulatory and safety evaluations, clearance and is currently being distributed to the regional depots in OUR counties, as per the attached distribution list.
“Vaccination remains one of the most cost effective methods of disease prevention in the world,” Muraguri said.
Alongside BCG, the government also offers vaccination against 10 other life threatening childhood diseases free of charge through a network of over 6,000 public private and Faith Based Health Facilities- polio, measles, diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus, Influenza, Hepatitis B, Pneumococcal disease, rota virus diarrhea and Yellow fever. Enditem