Mad rush for Covid vaccine as infections rise

Thursday, August 26th, 2021 00:00 | By
Residents of Dagoretti South in Nairobi queue to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Riruta DC Grounds yesterday. Photo/PD/DOUGLAS LANGAT

Close to 300,000 people have been vaccinated since Friday last week as Kenyans make a mad rush for the life-saving Covid-19 jab amid spiraling infections.

Data from the Ministry of Health shows that on Monday and Tuesday alone, a total of 154,433 people were vaccinated across the country.

On Tuesday 72,760 first doses and 3,826 second doses were administered, an increase from 64,353 first doses and 3,494 doses administered on Monday.

Last Friday, about 80,000 people were vaccinated with the first and second dose.

Head of national Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Task Force Dr. Willis Akhwale attributed the rush for the vaccine in various parts of the country to the recent spike in infections which has sent shockwaves in a population which had hitherto showed reluctance to take the jab.

 “Call it an upsurge in the disease,” Dr. Akhwale said yesterday during a media round-table on Covid-19 multiple vaccination deployment plan.

He cited the rapid spread of Covid-19 variants which have recently ravaged parts of Western Kenya, Nairobi and Kiambu as being partly behind the high demand for the vaccine.

“May be people are coming to appreciate the value of vaccines,” he said.

Akhwale said the rise in hospital admissions, especially in the Lake Region and parts of Central Kenya, could also have jolted reluctant Kenyans to go for the jab.

In mid June, Afya House sounded the alarm over a spike in Delta variant infections in the Lake region, which overwhelmed health facilities. 

 “This therefore raised alarm among Kenyans as the country’s vaccine stocks dwindled alarmingly.

Again, this alone was a lesson as many people gasped for oxygen, whereas others spent huge sums of money seeking treatment and many more were dying,” Akhwale said.

He, however, noted that as the demand for the vaccines goes up, the country is receiving millions of jabs against the disease.

Hundreds of government employees rushed to vaccination centres to get the jab following an ultimatum that all civil servants must be vaccinated by August 23 or face disciplinary action.

On Monday, hundreds of civil servants thronged the Garissa county commissioner’s office grounds in a last minute rush to comply with Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua’s directive.

This followed a warning by Public Service Principal Secretary Mary Kimonye last week that all civil servants who would not have received their first jab by yesterday risked losing their salaries, benefits and allowances, as well as being locked out of their offices.

Civil servants

“We are targeting 500 civil servants in this exercise, I have been reliably informed by the respective heads of department that most employees in their offices have been vaccinated,” said Garissa county commissioner Boaz Cherutich. 

He further said the county response committee on Covid-19 will scale up sensitisation and enforcement of preventive guidelines issued by the ministry of health, adding that so far they have vaccinated 6,110 people against the virus.

In Malindi Sub-County Hospital, it was the same story as the civil servants rushed to beat the deadline.

Civil servants, teachers and police officers were among those seeking the vaccine, overwhelming health workers.

In Baringo, civil servants flocked the county referral hospital in Kabarnet, to get the Covid-19 jab.

Asha Tarus, a teacher from Baringo North, said she went for the vaccine on Friday last week but was not successful.

“The queue is quite long having arrived here very early and we are very tired. We ask the government to extend the vaccination period to enable all teachers get the jab,” Tarus said.

Another civil servant Jane Cheruiyot went back home disappointed that, after queuing for more than four hours, she could not get vaccinated as the vaccines allegedly got exhausted before she was served.

The vaccination rate at the moment stands at 2.9 per cent.

In Kirinyaga, the county government established 13 more Covid-19 vaccination centres to cope with increased demand for the vaccine.

This brings to 22 the number of centres administering the vaccine in the county.

Governor Anne Waiguru said the increase in the number of people seeking to be vaccinated had largely been driven by campaigns undertaken by the county government in churches, markets and other public places.

 “There is evidence that people vaccinated against the coronavirus are less likely to develop severe symptoms leading to hospitalisation or death should they contract the virus.

It is for this reason that my administration has in the last two weeks intensified campaigns in churches, towns and market places to tell our people to get vaccinated against the virus,” she added.

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