Since the start of the pandemic, those aged 58 and older have been at greatest risk of hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19 compared to other age groups, and they represent nearly 80 percent of all Covid-19 deaths as of November 10.
Despite this, older people, prioritised to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, have the lowest vaccination rate, with less than 60 percent receiving the jab.
Dr Willis Akhwale, the head of the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Task Force said a number of people who fall in this vulnerable group are not willing to get the Covid-19 jab, which is puzzling, given that out of the 5,314 deaths so far, they form the largest proportion.
The deaths among the older generation occurred in all the waves, but they were higher with the Delta variant outbreak in the third wave.
The Ministry of Health analysis reveals that there is a significant negative correlation between vaccination rates and death rates among older adults during the Delta variant outbreak.
“We have seen 75 percent of people above 50 die through all the waves, but there was a higher incidence during the third and fourth waves. This was especially in the red zones where the cases reported were high -- this is Nairobi, Kiambu, Kisumu and the likes,” he said.
In rural Kenya, the elderly people fear seeking treatment and people with conditions think they will get the disease.
“This is why we are tracking old people through outreaches and we have done that in Trans Nzoia and Kitale where we used community health workers to reach out to this demographic. We also advise health care givers to advise the old to get vaccinated during their routine clinics,” he said.
Education campaigns are important and need to be sustained for acceptability, and the Interfaith Council should be used to ensure the vulnerable are vaccinated, he said.
So far, 55 percent of people older than 58 have been vaccinated with 7,381 receiving Johnson & Johnson, which is administered in one dose, while 408,757 have received the two doses of the rest of the vaccines. A total of 734,086 have been partially vaccinated.
The vaccination rate for adults 58 and older is especially high in Nairobi and Kiambu.
Nairobi County is in the lead with 20.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated followed by Nyeri County 18.1 percent, Kiambu 11.4 percent, Taita Taveta and Nyandarua 9.6 percent each, Uasin Gishu with 9.2 percent, Kisumu 8.3 percent, Kirinyaga 8.2 percent, and Mombasa 8.1 percent.
In Wajir and Marsabit less than one percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “Older adults are more likely to get very sick from Covid-19. Getting very sick means that older adults with Covid-19 might need hospitalisation, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they might even die. The risk increases for people in their 50s and increases in 60s, 70s, and 80s. People 85 and older are the most likely to get very sick.”
This means that the older generation who are mostly situated in the village are more to die due to the fact that there are fewer oxygen tanks in most counties.
CDC states that adults 65 and older who were fully vaccinated with an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) had a 94 percent reduction in risk of Covid-19 hospitalisations, and vaccination was 64 percent effective among those who were partially vaccinated (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).