Covid-19: Anxiety as Nyanza counties run out of vaccines

Covid-19 vaccines Kenya

Employees of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) transfer cartons of Covid-19 vaccine doses into a cold storage facility at their warehouse in Kisumu County on March 4, 2021. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega

Anxiety has set in as the majority of the counties in the Lake region have run out of Covid-19 vaccines needed to administer the second dose.

This has resulted in desperation among those who received the first dose, mainly health workers, teachers, police and any other high risk populations, amid rising infections in the region under a partial lockdown.

Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Kakamega, Vihiga county governments are among those that have run out of vaccines and are counting on the donation received from Denmark.

Homa Bay's full hospital

Homa Bay, where the 32-bed high dependency unit (HDU) at the county teaching and referral hospital remains full, ran out of vaccines more than two weeks ago.

Residents who have been going to hospitals to get their second dose have been turned away.

At the referral hospital, a tent where the jab was being administered remains empty.

By Monday, 13,249 people had received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine while 3,280 had received the second dose, out of the 3,500 doses that were not used during the first phase of administration.

The county government got up to 18000 doses.

Some residents said they fear the delay will have some health effects and compromise the immune systems.

"What the national government has procured is not enough for everyone who got the first dose," said one James Onyango.

Homa Bay town continues to lead in the number of infections with 120 people getting infected between June 14 and June 20.

Rachuonyo North had 39 cases, Mbita 18, Rachuonyo South 15, Rangwe 10, Suba nine, Ndhiwa seven and Rachuonyo East two.

Governors in the Lake Region Economic Bloc James Ongwae (Kisii), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Anyang Nyong'o (Kisumu) address journalists at Prosperity House in Kisumu County on June 22, 2021. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Kisii and Kisumu

In Kisii county, 36 patients are being monitored at the Covid-19 isolation wards at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital while 250 others are under home-based care.

Vaccination was suspended last week after all the doses the county government received were administered.

The devolved unit received 15,500 doses and by Friday, only 3,000 people had received the second dose. Some 11,000 people were vaccinated in the initial round while more than 8,000 people have yet to receive the second dose.

“We hope the consignment will arrive by the end of this week so that we can resume the exercise,” said County Public Health director Richard Onkware.

Mr Onkware said one packet consists of 10 vaccines and that once opened, the rest remain viable for six hours, which leads to wastage.

“Ten percent of the vaccines were disposed of due to wastage,” he said.

In Kisumu, out of the 39,000 doses of vaccine that were received, 33,000 were administered in the first round while 6,000 people have received the second dose.

The county, like others, targeted high risk people including front line workers. Just about 35 per cent of the targeted population has been vaccinated so far.

Health executive Boaz Nyunya said the public has received the vaccines well and that the uptake rate has been good.

Reluctance in Kakamega

In Kakamega, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the county ran out of vaccines and could not proceed with the second phase of the vaccination drive.

“The reluctance forced us to surrender 5,000 doses to a neighboring county.”

Kakamega County has reported 19 deaths this month, following a surge in infections, especially in Lurambi in Kakamega town. The infections are linked to the high number of people travelling into and out of Kakamega town from the neighboring Vihiga, Bungoma, Siaya and Busia counties.

Governor Oparanya said on Monday that the county had procured a new oxygen manufacturing plant from France to improve supply at the general hospital and the level four facilities in the region.

“We have an oxygen plant which can produce 300 litres of oxygen per minute but have imported another with a capacity to produce 1000 litres per minute,” he said.

Twenty patients are admitted at the general Hospital, three of them in the intensive care unit (ICU), seven of them on supplemental oxygen and two on ventilator support. Eight patients were in the isolation wards.

The county vaccinated 24,120 people in the first phase of the campaign.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital

A nurse prepares a Covid-19 vaccine dose for administration at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu County on March 9, 2021. A nurse prepares a Covid-19 vaccine dose for administration at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu County on March 9, 2021. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

Testing scaled up

In Migori County, 14,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, Health executive Kephas Nyamita said.

According to Mr Nyamita, Awendi Sub-county has recorded the highest infection rate over the past one month.

"Awendo is leading with 98 cases, Suna East 83, Suna West 70 while Rongo Rob county had recorded 65 cases," he said.

Mr Nyamita said testing was scaled up at sub-county hospitals after the county government acquired diagnostics machines.

"We have reduced the time to 12 minutes before the results are out. Initially, we used to take samples to Kemri in Kisumu so results would take a while," he said.

Vihiga County ran out of its vaccines stock after the 15,000 doses that were delivered to the devolved unit got exhausted early this month, bringing to a halt the vaccination drive.

A total of 11,943 people received the first dose, leaving 3,057 doses that were used to partly administer the second dose.

The four main health facilities that were administering the jab in the county are now turning away people seeking the second dose.

More from Kemsa

Anxiety is rising with no word on when the second consignment will come but the health department assured plans are underway to receive the vaccine from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

According to statistics, the virus is concentrated in Vihiga Sub-county that hosts the county headquarters, and Mbale town  along the busy Kisumu-Kakamega highway.

As of Monday evening, Vihiga Sub-county had recorded 187 infections, followed by Hamisi, which borders Kisumu County, with 64.

Sabatia came is third with 60 cases and was followed by Luanda with 51 and Emuhaya with 40.

Vihiga recently opened an oxygen plant and a five-bed ICU as part of its move to boost emergency care in case of a spike in infections.

Further, the health department has recommended home-based isolation and care to ease the strain on the only two active isolation wards in the county.

In Bomet County, 22 people are admitted, one of them in ICU, whereas two are being treated at home. The county’s death toll is 62.

A total of 10,000 people in Bomet have received the first doze of the vaccine while the drive for the second dose is yet to be launched.

In Kericho County, 60 people are admitted, with one in ICU and eight under home-based care. Some 136 complications have died of Covid-19-complications.

By Rushdie Oudia, Ian Byron, Benson Ayienda, Benson Amadala, Ian Byron, Derick Luvega And Vitalis Kimutai