Health ministry issues a no vaccine, no-service deadline
You will not get government services if you are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus starting December 21, the government announced yesterday, as it moved to reach its target of 10 million fully immunised Kenyans by Christmas Day.
The government also announced that non-fully vaccinated adults will not be allowed to use public transport, including travelling by air, rail and road.
At a joint press conference, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and his Tourism counterpart Najib Balala, warned that those who do not produce a certificate to prove they are fully immunised, will also not access services in government offices.
“Everybody seeking in-person government services should be fully-vaccinated and proof of vaccination availed by December 21, 2021,” Kagwe said.
Such services, he said, will include the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), education, immigration, hospital and prison visitation, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and port services, among others.
“In order to accelerate vaccination, the ministry in collaboration with county governments and other stakeholders, will be undertaking a 10-day mass vaccination exercise from November 26 with the aim of administering adequate vaccines to as many people as possible,” he added.
The CS stated that all motor able operators that is drivers, conductors, boda boda riders, pilots, air hostesses and all others working in the sector should be fully vaccinated and carry proof of vaccination.
“All these measures in the sector are to be coordinated by the Ministry of Transport and in collaboration with relevant stakeholders,” he stated.
While it is not a legal requirement to be fully vaccinated, the new measures, if effected, are likely to inconvenience millions of Kenyans who are yet to receive the Covid-19 jab.
Balala said that people will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to be allowed to access parks and game reserves, hotels, bars and restaurants.
He said his ministry had consulted widely with other stakeholders and reached a consensus that hotels, and protected areas such as parks and game reserves demand a Covid-19 certificate, showing that a person seeking to visit is fully vaccinated by December 21.
“All facilities should demand proof of vaccination, failure to do that will attract heavy penalties for the facility and the individual,” he warned.
Balala added that the measures are aimed at protecting the economy from being shut down, and to be in tandem with what is happening elsewhere in the world.
The two CSs noted that a number of countries are now requiring people visiting to have Covid certificates, and also show proof of being fully vaccinated.
“It is very important that we are not left behind in this new world order, especially because we are a tourism destination of choice across the world. We need to demonstrate to the world that we stand in solidarity in the use of vaccines as a mitigation tool against Covid-19, as we welcome visitors to our parks, beaches and hotels,” he added.
Kagwe said all businesses, including small and medium enterprises, serving 50 or more people a day are required to put up signage for proof of vaccination before entry into their premises.
“All indoor gatherings will also adhere to this new regulation by limiting the attendance capacity to two thirds with proof of Covid-19 vaccination for all,” he stated.
The CS said that while the government has been consulting the Interfaith Council on these new strategies, he appealed to the religious sector to adopt the new measures.
The new measures will also affect those travelling for the upcoming festive season.
Travellers have been asked to be vigilant on symptoms related to Covid-19 and seek medical care immediately to protect their loved ones in the rural and urban areas.
Kagwe said reports from European countries have shown Covid-19 positive case numbers soaring over the last month.
“On Friday last week, the World Health Organisation stated that nearly two million cases were reported across Europe in the previous week, which is the largest number the region has had in a single week since the pandemic begun,” he revealed.
In Netherlands, Austria, France, Belgium, UK, Australia and the USA, for instance, it has been reported that the governments are debating whether to repose strong restrictions, even after successful vaccination campaigns.
The minister has directed that vaccination for the 15 -year olds with Pfizer will start tomorrow. The estimated population in this group is 5.7 million.
“We have so far received10.7 million doses and administered nearly 6.4 million doses. I am happy to report that among our priority groups, 88 per cent of our health workers and 79 per cent of our teachers are now fully vaccinated,” he noted.
He expressed concern that 18 per cent of the elderly population is not fully vaccinated, and that vaccine uptake has been generally slow.
Kagwe called on Kenyans to take vaccination seriously if they want their activities.