Low Covid vaccine uptake worries Kisumu, Homa Bay leaders

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

Few residents of Kisumu County are getting vaccinated against Covid-19 even though vaccines are available and a robust immunisation drive has been rolled out.

Official data shows that only 91,906 residents had received the first dose of the jab by the end of last week, representing just 14 per cent of the target population.

Meanwhile, 35,407 people have received the second dose, representing just 5.4 per cent of the country’s fully vaccinated population.

The numbers are way below the county target of 675,807 fully vaccinated residents by the end of the year, Health executive Gregory Ganda has said.

“The numbers are a huge concern to us as a department. That is why we are here today to urge all to take advantage of the current phase of vaccinations which have been brought closer to the residents,” Dr Ganda said on Wednesday.

He also said that despite the low uptake, the county was aiming to vaccinate 14,000 residents by the end of Mashujaa Day celebrations.

New vaccination sites would be set up in sub-counties, he said.

“Healthcare workers will also be conducting vaccination exercises in various outreach posts in addition to the health facilities,” he said.

Vaccine outreach

To ensure maximum vaccination coverage, the Health department has trained 255 workers to deploy the vaccine at 34 health facilities across the county.

The vaccination sites include seven in Kisumu Central, three in Kisumu East, six in Kisumu West, five in Nyando, four in Nyakach, five in Muhoroni and four in Seme.

“We have also continued to conduct sensitisation programmes through meetings with specific interest groups, radio talk shows, churches, mosques and business premises,” Dr Ganda said.

He said that the national government in partnership with the county government would ensure facilities do not run out of vaccines.

“We now have more access to the vaccine in 34 health facilities spread across the county due to increased production by a number of companies,” he said.

Initially, Covid-19 vaccines were reserved for those deemed to be at a high risk of contracting the virus, such as healthcare workers and the elderly.

“Now that the target groups have been expanded to include every adult, why don’t we all take this golden opportunity to be vaccinated,” he said.

Since the vaccine roll-out began, Kisumu has received 148,110 doses. The county has also recorded 9,093 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 285 deaths, while the positivity rate stands at 2.7 per cent.

Homa Bay sensitisation campaigns

In neighbouring Homa Bay County, top government officials spent Mashujaa Day conducting sensitisation campaigns on Covid-19 while encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

The National Incident Command Centre on Covid-19, through the ministries of Health and Interior, recommended the creation of Covid-19 “vaccine heroes and heroines” during Mashujaa Day celebrations on Wednesday. This is meant to increase the numbers of people being vaccinated. 

Homa Bay was given a target of 14,000, who were supposed to be vaccinated yesterday.
County Commissioner Moses Lilan and Governor Cyprian Awiti, who jointly chair the county Covid-19 emergency response committee, took time to sensitise residents to get vaccinated.

"We recently launched a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in all eight sub-counties to accelerate vaccine uptake. We want to ensure our health officers vaccinate as many people as possible," Governor Awiti said in Mbita.

Mr Lilan engaged in a similar activity in Oyugis, where he urged young people to take the lead in getting the vaccine.

“We are celebrating this holiday in a special way. We want everyone to be a hero by being vaccinated. Those who take the jab will be celebrated as our heroes and heroines of this year,” he said, adding that the recognition will help people who have been hesitant to get the jab.

Other senior government officials, including deputy county commissioners, state officials led the same activities in their areas of jurisdiction.

The vaccination drive targeted people going to markets and recreational facilities in the eight sub-counties.

Data from the Migori County department of Health indicated that vaccination was at 1.7 per cent by last week.


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