Low Covid vaccine uptake among medics alarming

Pauline Oginga

Mombasa County Health Chief Officer Pauline Oginga gets a Covid-19 jab on  March 10.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The county is targeting to vaccinate 4, 500 frontline workers, with each having two doses in a span of eight weeks.
  • The vaccine is being administered at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kaderboy health facility.

Rising concerns over the safety of Covid-19 vaccine coupled with poor information on the vaccination drive has contributed to low uptake among health workers at the Coast region.

Only a few health workers have turned up for vaccination in the region that received 26, 000 doses, with their unions citing poor information and rising safety concerns.

A majority of health workers in Mombasa, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties have kept off the initiative. In Mombasa, a paltry 307 nurses, doctors and clinicians have been vaccinated almost a week after the county received 9, 000 doses.

The county is targeting to vaccinate 4, 500 frontline workers, with each having two doses in a span of eight weeks.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses counterpart Peter Maroko said he is yet to receive the jab due to the concerns raised by other countries.

“Some countries have suspended the use of the vaccine over concerns about blood clots. The adverse effects of the vaccine have not been established fully,” he said, adding: “President Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet secretaries and other senior government officials should get the Covid jab publicly.”

The vaccine is being administered at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kaderboy health facility.

Taita Taveta, which received 1,500 doses last week, is targeting to vaccinate over 3,000 frontline workers.  Only 100 health workers have so far been vaccinated.

The county’s secretary-general of clinical workers Reinherd Myeuok has blamed the low uptake on lack of information on the vaccine. According to Mr Myeuko, public information about the vaccine remains scanty.

“I took the jab, but I can confirm to you that I barely know a thing about it, so you can imagine how the health worker in the remote part of this county will feel. They will have doubts because the Ministry of Health has failed in its mandate to educate the public about the vaccine,” he said.

The clinical officer noted that the government has not made any efforts to sensitise health workers on the vaccine, which has received negative reviews in some parts of the world.

“I know a lot of people who have not taken the jab fearing it may trigger the worst because they have underlying health issues,” he noted.

Lamu County received 1,500 doses, and acting Chief Officer for Medical Services Victor Tole confirmed that the vaccination drive will be rolled out this week.

Kilifi County has received 4,500 doses. County Commissioner Kustwa Olaka said the vaccination drive is expected to be launched this week at Kilifi County Hospital. Health Executive Charles Karisa said they are still registering the targeted health workers.

Reported by Winnie Atieno, Siago Cece, Maureen Ongala, Kalume Kazungu, Lucy Mkanyika and Stephen Oduor

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