Close to 300,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are still in storage depots even as 11.2 million eligible adults are yet to seek their first dose.
Aside from concerns that the drugs could expire, Ministry of Health official also warn that people who have not had their booster shots despite surpassing their due dates are at risk of contracting Covid-19.
This is because people who completed their vaccination six to eight months ago have waned immunity against the disease, making them equally vulnerable as those who have not been vaccinated, explained Dr Willis Akhwale, the chair of the national Covid-19 vaccines task force.
Kenya is offering Covid-19 booster shots to people six months after their initial shots. A third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine boosts the body’s immune response giving added protection to keep most people out of the hospital if they become sick. Generally, the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines has dropped dramatically in recent months, leading to fears that thousands of the doses could go to waste.
At the height of the fourth and fifth waves last year, Kenya’s coronavirus vaccine rollout was at its peak with an average of 253,000 people getting vaccinated daily.
Initially driven by fears of contracting the highly contagious Omicron variant that emerged in November and a government vaccine mandate, demand for the Covid-19 vaccine peaked in November and December but has fallen considerably since. But health officials warn that the rainy season could trigger yet another wave. According to a number of studies, while supply is no longer the problem, Covid-19 vaccine uptake among the eligible population has slowed down due to hesitancy and apathy.