Politicians, clerics join list of coronavirus vaccine priority

Friday, March 26th, 2021 00:00 | By

Irene Githinji @gitshee

The government has added politicians, religious and community leaders in the list of persons eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

In a statement yesterday, the State said that persons aged 58 and above were also added in the vaccination priority list are.

“The Ministry of Health calls upon all political, religious and community leaders to take the vaccine so as to boost confidence in the overall vaccination process among target groups,” read a statement signed by Dr Willis Akhwale, chair of Covid-19 taskforce for vaccine deployment. 

His statement comes against a push by Members of Parliament to have President Uhuru Kenyatta, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and other top government officials to lead from the front by taking the vaccine in public.

This, the MPs have argued, would boost public confidence in the vaccination exercise.

Greatest risk

Akhwale’s statement comes in the wake of reports that the vaccine  uptake among priority groups, including healthcare workers, security agencies and teachers has been very low.

Uhuru and Kagwe have on several occasions maintained that they would not jump the queue to take the vaccine. 

Urging persons aged 58 years and above to take the vaccine, Akhwale said they were at the greatest risk of contracting virus owing to their advanced age and that they account for 60 per cent of recorded deaths.

“The country is now experiencing the Covid-19 third wave with increasing number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

In view of this surge and in order to protect and save lives, the ministry has decided to immediately prioritise vaccinations of persons aged 58 years and above,” said  Akhwale.

Hee said the prioritisation is also aligned to the World Health Organisation and National taskforce on vaccine deployment recommendations.

First phase of the vaccination exercise targeted 1.25 million frontline workers at high risk of infection.

Separately, Deputy President William Ruto urged those in the target groups to come out in large numbers and take the vaccine.

The Deputy President said he is willing to receive it but has to wait for his time to come, given that Cabinet agreed to give frontline workers first priority.

“The Cabinet agreed to allow frontline workers take the vaccine first and it would not be right if I am vaccinated first yet a doctor who is on the frontline is not.

When my time comes, I, together with the President and ministers will be among the first people to get it, because we want every Kenyan to get vaccinated so that we can go back to normal lives,” Ruto said in a radio interview yesterday morning.

Confirmed cases

The number of confirmed cases has been on a steady rise this month, with Nairobi having a total increase of over 6,000 cases in less than two weeks

According to the Ministry of Health, the vaccination exercise started at national referral facilities and later moved to county referral hospitals and now we are cascading further down to sub-county facilities.

“Our vaccination programme is informed by a very clear deployment plan managed by a taskforce at the national level.

The plans are further cascaded to counties and sub-counties with the management process undertaken by county and sub-county health management teams,” the ministry explained.

MoH has also insisted that the vaccination plan remains on course and is supported by a robust IT system that is assisting with capturing of data on all vaccinations taking place.

Over the next two weeks, the Ministry seeks to vaccinate over 20,000 people per day, even as it urged Kenyans not eligible for vaccination in the first phase to wait for their turn, when the country will have received adequate doses.

Over 64, 000 people have been vaccinated since the exercise was rolled out on March 8.

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