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Covid-19 vaccine acceptance in Kenya surges amid threats posed by third wave

Kenya received 1.02 million AstraZeneca COVID vaccines under the COVAX facility

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | The demand for inoculation against the novel coronavirus among Kenyan citizens has spiked in recent times amid prodding by national leaders and jitters occasioned by a third wave marked by rising infections and fatalities.

A largely skeptical public when the vaccine doses arrived in the country in early March has now embraced them with gusto as demonstrated by multitudes that are braving long queues and harsh elements to be inoculated.

Kenya received about 1.02 million AstraZeneca COVID vaccines under the COVAX facility on March 2, to pave way for inoculation of high-risk groups including healthcare workers, teachers and security personnel.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that 196,435 people had received the COVID jab as of April 2, while plans were afoot to vaccinate 50,000 people daily.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who led senior government officials for a public vaccination exercise against the virus on March 26 has been prodding citizens to be inoculated.

“I urge members of the public to ignore misinformation and rumours and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The vaccine is safe and it is a potent weapon that can help us defeat this pandemic,” Kenyatta said during a televised address on March 26 when he announced new measures to help contain the pandemic.

He said that people aged 58 years and above will be included in the initial phase of inoculation against COVID-19, adding the wider population will be prioritized when the second batch of vaccines arrive in the country in May.

Kenya is among African countries that have registered remarkable enthusiasm towards the COVID-19 vaccine despite initial apathy that was largely driven by skepticism over its safety and efficacy.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health said the government had put robust systems in place to facilitate a seamless roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The vaccination exercise targeting frontline workers like doctors, nurses, police, military and teachers has gone smoothly and we expect to cover other population groups soon,” said Mutahi.

Mutahi said that Kenya was mulling approval for different COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to the public subject to their meeting the safety and efficacy threshold set by local regulatory agencies.

Kenyans have in the recent past turned up in large numbers at vaccination sites spread across the country to be inoculated against coronavirus, egged on by public figures.

The initial reluctance to get the jab ebbed away when President Uhuru Kenyatta, cabinet ministers and other national leaders took the jab publicly while encouraging ordinary citizens to follow suit in order to help the country tame surging infections and deaths occasioned by the third wave.

Local media reports indicate that stockout has been experienced in some inoculation sites amid huge turn-up by members of the public eager to receive the COVID-19 jab and boost their immunity against the virus.

Willis Akhwale, chairman of the COVID-19 taskforce for vaccine deployment, said the government had invested in robust infrastructure and man-power to ensure the inoculation exercise did not stall amid huge turn-out by the public.

“We have invested in cold chain infrastructure and personnel across all counties to support smooth roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine. There have been isolated cases of stockout due to high demand for the vaccine but the matter is being addressed,” Akhwale said at a recent briefing in Nairobi.



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