Covid jab

A health worker administers Covid-19 vaccine on September 20, 2021.

| Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Covid-19: Medics worry about vaccine dose defaulters

There is a growing concern by health experts in Western Kenya over the rate of people failing to go for the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.  

 Despite the high number of people being vaccinated in the first round, it is emerging that some counties have up to half the number defaulting.

 In Vihiga County, for instance, out of 21,348 who went for the first dose, 10,500 are yet to go for the second dose, according to the official figure released by the governor's office.

 While the reasons for the large numbers were not given, acting Health Executive Inonda Mwanje has in the past advised the public against shunning the vaccine.

He said people were falsely claiming that the jab will cause infertility. 

 Medical workers in Homa Bay County have had to plead with at least 3,500 Covid-19 vaccine defaulters to go for the jab to boost their immunity against the virus.

 In the county, 32,207 people have received their first dose, 10,429 others have received two doses, with 13, 576 due for the second dose.

According to County Immunization Services Coordinator Christine Ongete, the county's vaccination status stands at 1.7 per cent despite availability of Covid-19 vaccines in the region.

However, Ms Ongete said 3,522 people should have by now received their second dose. 

 This group has, however, not shown up at any health facility to get the second dose, despite getting messages on their phones asking them to go for it. 

 “Their time is overdue. We consider them as defaulters because they are supposed to get the second dose of the vaccine at a particular time after getting the first one,” Ms Ongete said.

 The World Health Organisation recommends two doses for some types of vaccine for better immunity.

 Ms Ongete said the county government had increased the number of places where Covid-19 vaccine is provided to encourage uptake.

 “We received 500 doses of Johnson & Johnson, 8,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 5,040 Moderna vaccines, which are all available in 30 health centres, including all eight sub county hospitals and other selected facilities,” she said.

In Kisii, 21,000 residents were vaccinated in the first round and at least 10,000 received the second jab, leaving 11, 000 who are yet to receive the second.

County Public Health Director Richard Onkware attributed the low turn out to the long period those who received the AstraZeneca jab have to wait before receiving their second one.

“Most people received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose, which requires one to wait for a long time before going for the second. However, we are encouraging people to follow the guidelines,” said Dr Onkware.

The county had received Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, which Dr Onkware said are still in stock.

In the neighbouring Migori County, health officials have initiated an outreach programme aimed at issuing the Covid-19 vaccines, following a low turnout.

Of the 29,600 people vaccinated, 18,314 received the first dose with another 10,689 getting the second dose.

The county Health executive, Mr Kephas Nyamita, raised concerns over the low uptake of the second dose, terming it “worrying”, while calling on residents to turn up for the jab. 

“We have enough stock of AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but the slow uptake by residents is worrying. We have organised outreach programmes to roll out the exercise at the grassroots level,” Mr Nyamita said.

He noted that close to 8,000 people were yet to get the second dose.

The official noted that 17,255 males have been vaccinated against 11,748 females.

“Teachers have the highest population, with over 6,000 receiving the jab, followed by health workers, while members of the Civil Service recorded a remarkably low turnout.

The county’s positivity rate is currently below two percent, with three people testing positive in the month of October, from 45 cases last month.

 In Siaya County, defaulters of the vaccine are at 2,500, as shown by the Chanjo system.

 Acting Chief Officer for Health Eunice Fwaya stated that the data has not been cleaned since some people who are appearing as defaulters have received both doses.

 "Few people have reported since those who went for the first one either became sick after getting the first jab, hence they are hesitant to go for the second," said Dr Fwaya.

Kisumu Director of Public Health Fred Oluoch said cases of defaulters are on the increase. 

 However, officials are reminding the defaulters to go for the second dose. 

"We are sending them text messages and making calls to remind them to complete the dose," he said. 

So far those vaccinated include health workers (16,532), teachers (16,829), security officers (16,829), inmates (213) and those above 58 (22,174).

He said the county government would get more Moderna vaccines within the week.

 By Rushdie Oudia, Ian Byron, George Odiwuor, Elizabeth Ojina, Derick Luvega and Benson Ayienda