Kenya misses Covid jabs target by 4 million doses


A health worker injects a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient in Nyeri town. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Kenya has missed its Covid-19 vaccination target for 2022 by 4.1 million doses amid an increasing struggle by the Ministry of Health to convince the unvaccinated to go for the shot.

The government planned to vaccinate at least 27 million adults by December 31, but did 23 million by December 15, marking a shortfall of about 15 percent.

Of the doses administered, 18.4 million were given to those 18 years and above, 2.8 million for 12 years to below 18 years and 1.8 million were booster jabs.

This comes at a time the ministry is reporting thousands of vaccine doses going to waste across the country.

Ministry records show more than 843,000 doses have expired, which the Covid Vaccine Deployment Taskforce attributes to hesitancy.

“The low uptake of vaccines has been occasioned by a preference for the single jab vaccines to those that require double doses. Kenyans find it hard going for more than one jab and it all boils down to sensitisation and awareness,” said the task force chairman Willis Akhwale.

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Kenya had set its first vaccination target of at least 20 million doses between January and June 2022 but managed 18.5 million.

The country started vaccinating adults against Covid-19 in March 2021 but teenagers eight months later.

“By the end of 2021, we had administered 10.1 million doses of five types of Covid-19 vaccines. During this period 4.2 million people were fully vaccinated while 5.9 million were partially vaccinated,” said the ministry.

At the beginning of 2022, Kenya started the administration of third doses as booster shots in a move aimed at attaining herd immunity following global reports of waning immunity from vaccines.

Meanwhile, the ministry maintains that the country is not out of the woods yet and urges the public to strictly adhere to the curbs.

This follows the surge in Covid-19 cases and the mix-up of information about a new Covid-19 variant in China that has made several countries, among them the US, India, and Japan impose travel restrictions on China.

“These variants are known and have been circulating in other countries, and at present no new variant has been reported by the China CDC,” the WHO said in a statement.

Kenya has, however, said it has no plans of imposing curbs, claiming the move will further hit the economy which is yet to fully recover.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused massive job losses in Kenya and wiped out the livelihoods of more than 2 million people at its peak.

Despite the lingering threat, Kenyans appear to have moved on from the Covid-19 scare, dropping most of the containment measures including the wearing of masks except in select places.

The Coronavirus has so far mutated into several variants including the most dangerous ‘Omicron’ which led to hundreds of deaths in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has since renamed the four variants considered of concern by the United Nations agency and known generally by the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants to the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta according to the order of their detection.

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“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall and are prone to misreporting. As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatising and discriminatory,” the WHO said in a statement.

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