Did the call for boycott by the Catholic bishops affect the polio vaccination coverage in Kenya in 2015? A cross-sectional study

  • Ian Njeru
  • Yusuf Ajack
  • Charles Muitherero
  • Dickens Onyango
  • Johnny Musyoka
  • Iheoma Onuekusi
  • Jackson Kioko
  • Nicholas Muraguri
  • Robert Davis


Introduction: Polio eradication is now feasible after removal of Nigeria from the list of endemic countries and global reduction of cases of wild polio virus in 2015 by more than 80%. However, all countries must remain focused to achieve eradication. In August 2015, the Catholic bishops in Kenya called for boycott of a polio vaccination campaign citing safety concerns with the polio vaccine. We conducted a survey to establish if the coverage was affected by the boycott. Methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted in all the 32 counties that participated in the campaign. A total of 90,157 children and 37,732 parents/guardians were sampled to determine the vaccination coverage and reasons for missed vaccination. Results: The national vaccination coverage was 93% compared to 94% in the November 2014 campaign. The proportion of parents/guardians that belonged to Catholic Church was 31% compared to 7% of the children who were missed. Reasons for missed vaccination included house not being visited (44%), children not being at home at time of visit (38%), refusal by parents (12%), children being asleep (1%), and various other reasons (5%). Compared to the November 2014 campaign, the proportion of children who were not vaccinated due to parent’s refusal significantly increased from 6% to 12% in August 2015. Conclusion: The call for boycott did not affect the campaign significantly. However, if the call for boycott is repeated in future it could have some significant negative implication to polio eradication. It is therefore important to ensure that any vaccine safety issues are addressed accordingly.

Pan African Medical Journal 2016; 24

Author Biographies

Ian Njeru
Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya
Yusuf Ajack
Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya
Charles Muitherero
World Health Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
Dickens Onyango
Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya
Johnny Musyoka
Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya
Iheoma Onuekusi
World Health Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
Jackson Kioko
World Health Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
Nicholas Muraguri
World Health Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
Robert Davis
American Red Cross, Nairobi, Kenya

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1937-8688