Kenya has given itself the target of vaccinating 10 million adults against COVID-19 by December 2021.
The country is prioritising frontline health workers, teachers, security officers, those aged 50 and above as well as all people over 18 with underlying medical conditions or disabilities.
Speaking in Nairobi, the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce Chairman Dr Willis Akhwale expressed his dismay at the low turnout of people aged 50 years-plus who had received the first jab but were not getting their second dose.
“In order to achieve our target of vaccinating 10 million people by the end of this year, we have come up with several strategies to ensure we meet this noble goal, which include increasing the number of outreach campaigns and mass vaccination centres countrywide”
“Our statistics reveal that people between 50 to 60 years-old need to be fully vaccinated as a majority of COVID-19 deaths in this country are occurring among this age-group…By 7 September, for example, Kenya had recorded a total of 240,430 cases of the disease, with 4,795 succumbing to COVID-19, the majority being in the 50 to 60 age group.”
The Health Ministry’s Head of Data Management and Infomatics, Dr Joseph Sitienei, adds, “The ministry plans to track the more than 800,000 people in the age-group who took the first jab but are yet to be vaccinated in the second round. Partial vaccination cannot confer protection against COVID-19.”
Dr Akhwale says that, as at 6 September, Kenya had received a total of 5,147,320 doses of vaccines through the COVAX Facility as well as other donations from several countries, with many more to come.
Kenya is relying on four types of COVID-19 vaccines: AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.
“In order to achieve our target of vaccinating 10 million people by the end of this year, we have come up with several strategies to ensure we meet this noble goal, which include increasing the number of outreach campaigns and mass vaccination centres countrywide,” Dr Akhwale adds.
According to Dr Akhwale, as of 6 September 2.8 million doses have been administered in total, with 2 million people receiving one dose and 800,000 their second. This translates to 3% of Kenya’s adult population fully vaccinated.
He appealed to as many adults as possible to get the vaccine – especially priority groups – in order to protect themselves against COVID-19.
On 6 September, at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital grounds, 71-year-old Wilson Maina was among the many who braved chilly and drizzly weather to get their first dose.
A resident of the sprawling Kawangware slums in Nairobi, Maina says: “I happened to be away in my rural home in Murang’a when the first round of vaccinations were initiated. I have personally lost many friends and relatives to COVID-19 and I had no option but to heed the government’s call for those in my age group to get vaccinated.”
Cynthia Cherono, a hospital official, says that, since the second-round vaccination was rolled out, between 500 to 600 people are vaccinated daily.
“The vaccination centre opens from 8:00 to 14:00 and an average of three people are vaccinated every minute. Lactating and pregnant mothers are amongst those who are being vaccinated,” she adds.
In addition, on 7 September, Mutahi Kagwe, the Health Ministry’s Cabinet Secretary, announced, “To open up the tourism sector, we now want to include the entire hotel industry staff [for vaccination], in addition to other frontline workers already prioritised.”