As Nairobi leads in booster shots, Wajir records none

Covid-19 vaccine

No resident of Wajir County has received a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot as Nairobi leads with the highest number of doses administered since late December.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

No resident of Wajir County has received a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot as Nairobi leads with the highest number of doses administered since late December.

Nairobi has administered over 45,000 booster doses followed by Nakuru (6,000), Uasin Gishu (4,200), Mombasa (4,100) and Nyeri (3,200), data from the Ministry of Health shows.

Among counties with the lowest booster shots numbers are Mandera, which has only four, Lamu (5), Tana River (17), Marsabit (22), Garissa (23), Turkana (43) and Samburu (60).

About 90,000 booster shots have been administered, with officials aiming to vaccinate all the 4.2 million people eligible for such shots by mid this year.

This is part of the new strategy to ensure that everyone is protected against the Omicron variant.

Additional dose

A booster shot is an additional dose given to those who have been fully vaccinated but whose protection has decreased over time, says the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The aim of the booster shot is to restore the vaccine’s effectiveness in the body.

“This population that has been fully vaccinated should be offered an additional dose of either AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine six months after the completion of the primary series (the same or different vaccine can be used for the additional dose)," the Health ministry said when it announced the booster shots.

Health officials say the degree to which immunity wanes and the need for booster shots may differ depending on vaccines, target populations, virus in circulation, variant of concern and intensity of exposure.

The ministry says one can choose which vaccine to receive as a booster shot.

The Moderna vaccine, though, is out of stock and the rest – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson and Sinopharm – are available for booster doses, Dr Willis Akhwale, the vaccine task force chairman, told the Nation.

Enough vaccines

Dr Akhwale stressed that there are “enough vaccines in the country and we are asking for people to go get vaccinated”. “This will work to your benefit and that of the country,” he said.

“If you reacted to a vaccine ... you can shift and get a booster of a different vaccine,” said Health director-general Patrick Amoth.

A recent scientific study on booster shots has shown that within six months of getting vaccinated, the protective level of the vaccines wanes, and those who received their jabs earlier need a booster shot.

“It is very encouraging to see that current vaccines have the potential to protect against Omicron following a third dose booster,” said Sir John Bell of the University of Oxford, one of the study investigators.

Vaccine strategies

Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a consultant pathologist, said: “These results support the use of third dose boosters as part of national vaccine strategies, especially to limit the spread of variants of concern, including Omicron.”

Data from Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier or who received a J&J single-dose vaccine two months earlier.

“With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against getting infected with Covid-19, with a booster shot helping to prevent severe Covid-19,” says the Pfizer-BioNTech study.

Kenya is among 135 countries implementing booster programmes amid rising infections caused by Omicron.

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