At least 700,000 residents of Mandera County aged between one and 29 years will be vaccinated against meningitis in the next nine days.
This was said by the County Chief Officer for Public Health Rahma Abdullahi while launching the mass vaccination at Mandera D.E.B Primary School on Tuesday.
“Our target is 690,000 locals aged between one to 29 years. We are expecting 90 percent coverage,” Ms Abdullahi said.
Mandera county lies in what has been described as a meningitis belt, hence the need for the vaccination.
Mandera neighbours Ethiopia which has reported an outbreak of meningitis.
South Sudan and Uganda have also reported the outbreak, thus putting the counties of Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir and West Pokot on the meningitis belt.
“This campaign is informed by the 2016-2017 risk assessment done in five counties which showed Mandera is at risk,” said Ms Abdullahi.
Meningitis is an infection of the thin linings that surround the brain and the spinal cord (meninges).
It is caused by different organisms including bacteria, fungi or viruses.
It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50 percent of cases if untreated.
The county chief officer said the vaccine will be given as an injection and is safe even for pregnant women.
According to Ms Abdullahi, the vaccination will reduce the morbidly and mortality associated with meningitides in Kenya and it will prevent future outbreaks.
Common symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, headache, sensitivity to light, confusion and vomiting.
The average incubation period for meningitis is four days.
“We have cases of the disease in Mandera but I cannot give an exact figure because we are in the process of collecting data,” said Ms Abdullahi.