Smart system will resolve Covid-19 vaccine confusion

AstraZeneca vaccine

Staff member handles AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines in storage at Region Hovedstaden's Vaccine Center, Copenhagen, Denmark on February 11, 2021. PHOTO | REUTERS

The majority of people known to me tend to love life and the curveball served by the pandemic verified this.

I received the notification from the government service (MOH-CHANJO) that I was scheduled to receive my second dose at the Mbagathi District Hospital.

The framing of the message had me confident that work had gone into some back office system to ensure a clinical – pun intended – execution of the second phase of the vaccination process, albeit phase one still facing its challenges.

For my first jab, I crisscrossed Nairobi for two days, with family members in tow hunting for a health centre that was inoculating. Friends, relatives and social media served updates on where to try one’s luck. It was a physically arduous processes made a bit easier by the availability of ‘personal means’ – a private car at our disposal.

Having received my notification, I asked around to get a pulse of the experience hopeful for better. What I curated was that people started to queue at various facilities as early as 4:30am, with the vaccination process starting from 8am, and active for a few hours before they run out of doses.

My supposed early arrival at Mbagathi District Hospital met a winding queue with the additional downside that after three hours, we were informed that there would be no service that day and advised to try again the following, rinse repeat for two other locations across the city.

Suffice to say, I was disappointed with the overriding frustration that my time and that of thousands of others was wasted in a self-driven search for a vaccine that should put us in a better position to fulfil our daily obligations and the seemingly casual approach by government to this process.

A smart scheduling system would be of great value and simple to implement riding off WEB, SMS and USSD. All facilities that are mandated to administer the vaccine would be onboarded onto the platform and the notifications trickled out with a call to action for those messaged to confirm availability on the provided schedule, with a window given for feedback to be received.

If a response is not received, another person would be nudged. The end result would be that only those who confirm availability, matched 1 to 1 to available doses would show up at the facilities at the prescribed time avoiding the game of chance that we, without any 'connections' for private or preferential vaxxing are playing now. The additional economic impact of labour hours lost in the search of the inoculation only compounds the effects of the pandemic itself.

The telcos and the Communications Authority of Kenya should lead this process. We need not wait for some foreign development aid organisation to come in with a report, roadmap, funding and possibly a ready tool for a process enhancement that is truly as simple and obvious as it sounds, and for which we are more than capable of building.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | | @mbuguanjihia