Kenya steps up the up COVID-19 vaccination efforts

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Kenya’s ministry of health has stepped up its efforts to fight the global pandemic by increasing the number of available vaccines in the country.
The country recently received more than 800,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 as the government pushes the campaign to get more people vaccinated.
The current target is to vaccinate at least 10 million people by December this year.

Is this achievable?

Going by an analysis by AMREF, the country plans to vaccinate 40 per cent of its population by the end of 2022. This translates to about 20 million people from a total population of 49 million.
The government has also revised its vaccine deployment plans. This has been made possible by the availability of multiple vaccines in the country.
The health ministry now plans to vaccinate at least 150,000 people each day before the end of September.
According to Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, the focus is on protecting those at the greatest risk of infection.
“The government has put in place elaborate mechanisms to ensure it has the capacity to deploy all the vaccines across the country including Pfizer that requires storage of -70 degrees.” She said.
The country still expects to receive more vaccines as fighting and containing the deadly virus intensifies.

Another 393,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine are expected in the country in the next few weeks and 1.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in September this year.

COVID-19 deaths in Kenya

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, the number of confirmed cases of the global pandemic is 230,794, while more than 4000 people have succumbed to the deadly virus.

Situation in Kenya

According to the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Kiambu, Kajiado, Lamu, Makueni, Murang’a, Nairobi, Nyandarua, Taita Taveta, and Tana River have recorded an increase in the spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

“This observation is consistent with projections of increased spread of COVID-19 in the months of July and August associated with the more transmissible Delta variant which is becoming the dominant strain,” the CS said.

The country continues to debunk rumours and myths against the COVID-19 vaccine to get more people vaccinated.
A recent one came from AMREF’s; Dr Githinji Gitahi said it is safe to get vaccinated when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

“As we go along pregnant women have been receiving the vaccines globally and there have been no risks associated with it,” he noted.

Another effort to debunk the myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination by Viral Facts Africa says that false claims can spread faster than COVID-19 itself, often because they are simple, visual and tap into our emotions. “Viral Facts Africa aims to debunk myths fast right where they spread, and to help people sort life-saving facts from noise. Together, we can stop viral rumours by sharing viral facts,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Viral Facts Africa is a part of the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), a WHO-hosted network that coordinates actions and pools resources to combat misinformation and fill information gaps around the COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies in Africa.

Launched in December 2020 with 12 organizations, AIRA brings together the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Verified, UN Global Pulse, WHO and the fact-checking organizations Africa Check, PesaCheck, Agence France Presse Fact Check, Dubawa and Meedan. The alliance is growing, with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Ghana Fact also recently joining.

Also read: Kenyan government urged to end covid containment measures

“COVID-19 is not over, and as vaccines are rolled out across Africa, mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing are still key to saving lives. We need a whole-of-society push to keep these messages fresh in people’s minds and everyone has a role to play as viral health misinformation costs lives,” said Dr Moeti.

Covid Vaccine- Freepik

Multiple vaccination plan

WHO has thrown its weight behind the multiple vaccination plan projects in Africa. This is in the backdrop of the expected 620 million COVID-19 vaccine doses set to arrive on the continent through COVAX alone by the end of the year.

African countries are set to roll out a range of different vaccines, each with its own unique storage, transport and administration requirements.

“It’s a huge and complex task, and it is crucial that we plan well, ensure resources are in place and keep documenting, learning and sharing lessons as we go. Countries must also share all relevant data with WHO, as we use it to allocate vaccines, track progress and tailor our support,” says Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, New Vaccines Introduction Officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.

WHO also documents and shares key lessons from Africa’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

“This includes building a database of valuable information and creating case studies on positive experiences and how countries are overcoming key risks and challenges. So far, 10 African countries have shared experiences and valuable lessons through regional webinars,” a statement by the WHO reads in part.

 

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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