A six-tonne consignment of the vaccines has expired at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as government dithered over clearance protocols.
The vaccines have wasted away at JKIA for three years just because of governments blunder.
Now the 6.1 tonnes of pentavalent – a vaccine meant to protect mothers and children against five potentially deadly diseases– has expired and will be destroyed.
The consignment of the vaccine that arrived at JKIA Swissport storage in 2017 wasted away due to bureaucracy and failure to pay clearance token fees.
The red tape could have denied many Kenyans immunisation against haemophilus influenza type B (the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis media – ear infection), diptheria, whooping cough, hepatitis B, tetanus and other ailments.
Headlined “Collection and Disposal of Expired Vaccines at JKIA Swiss Port Storage”, the letter says the storing firm wants the expired vaccines destroyed since as they are occupying valuable space.
“These are lifesaving vaccines that should be treated with urgency once they get into the country but because of bureaucracy by the clearing agency, we have to dispose of 6.1 tonnes of vaccines. Very unfortunate,” Drug Crime and Investigations head at PPB Dennis Otieno says in the letter.
Even as the vaccine donated by the Serum Institute India expired in July last year, many children and women went without their dosage because it was in short supply in public hospitals.
The tetanus vaccine is given to babies who are six, 10 and 14 weeks old.
The disease in newborns is prevented if the mother has been immunised.
The mother is immune if she has been vaccinated before getting pregnant or during pregnancy.
An expectant mother whose tetanus immunisation status is uncertain or whose last immunisation was more than 10 years ago should be vaccinated against the disease.
The tetanus toxoid vaccine has reduced incidence rates world wide.
Neonatal tetanus continues to be a major killer and can be prevented by providing the vaccine to women of childbearing age.
During childhood, five doses are recommended, with a sixth given at adolescence.