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Governors’ fears on low vaccine uptake, drought in arid regions

 

Council of Governors (COG) Chairman Martin Wambora. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Over 13,218 people in the counties have received booster shots to curb the spread of Covid-19, five days after president Uhuru Kenyatta announced the rollout.

Governors had expressed concern over low uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines among communities in arid and semi-arid areas, even as confirmed cases by the Ministry of Health yesterday stood at 2,216 with a positivity rate at 25.6 per cent.

Council of Governors (CoG) chairperson Martin Wambora (Embu) yesterday revealed that those who have received the booster shots had completed their first and second doses to boost their immunity.

“The third dose (booster dose) will go a long way to boost our immunity as new mutations of the virus crop up,” Wambora said.

He added, “We call upon the leaders in these counties to continue reaching out to the population to boost the numbers. Vaccination is currently the only known strategy against the pandemic.”

With three deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, the county bosses called for strong measures to curb the spread of the Omicron strain.

“For us to stop the spread, we must put in place stringent measures to help us fight the virus,” said Wambora as he outlined measures to enable the counties ensure compliance.

He urged, “county governments to adhere to these measures; create awareness on safety of vaccine and increase the vaccination campaigns to reach a wide coverage including those that are seeking booster doses, pregnant women and children between the ages of 15 to 18.”

Further, the county boss wants the State to lay more emphasis on contact tracing for infected persons as well as strengthen the testing capacity and continuous advocacy on proper usage of protective equipment at the community and facility level to prevent the spread of the new variant.

Pandemic deaths

In week of 27th December 2021 – to date, the number of confirmed positive cases of covid-19 across the 47 counties is 21,217 bringing the cumulative total to 302,134. Over the same period, 73 deaths associated with the pandemic have been reported in the country.

However, the covid situation report shows a low number of severe cases and low admission rates despite a very high number of persons testing positive. 2,904 cases under home based isolation care and 683 cases on facility isolation have recovered.

Wambora disclosed that so far 4,155,832 people across the 47 counties have been fully vaccinated.

He outlined that in this figure, 221,893 health care workers have been fully vaccinated, which translates to 82.1 per cent of all health care workers in the country.

“191,275 security officers have been vaccinated, 366, 945 teachers have received their vaccination. We hope to vaccinate more teachers especially as schools open this week will take the jab,” said Wambora.

He added, “People above the age of 58 years account for 770,527 (60.9 per cent). 16,054 inmates have been fully vaccinated and children between the age of 15-18 years are 21,130 while other groups account for 2,589,137.”

Similarly, Wambora waded on a myriad of issues, including the drought situation in the counties.

He issued data on drought from the month of October-December last year during the short rain season several counties form arid and semi arid regions being the most affected.

“Due to the October-December 2021 short rain season, the water situation in the country has slightly improved however, the rains were still below average, “said Wambora.

Kilifi and Kwale counties are the most affected as they fall under the extreme vegetation deficit after reporting worst rainfall performance , while Garrisa, Kitui, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabet, Taita Taveta, Tana River and Wajir are experiencing vegetation deficit .

Other counties are listed in the alert drought phase including Embu, Laikipia, Kajiado, Makueni, Meru, Narok, Nyeri and Samburu while counties of Garrisa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Mandera, Turkana, Kwale and Tharaka Nithi are in alarm drought phase.

The worsening drought has significantly affected crop production and damaged livestock leaving about 2.4 million people in ASAL regions precisely at a dire situation. Water sources for both people and livestock have dried up and herders in North Eastern are counting losses of up to 70 per cent, forcing them to walk longer distances in search for pastures.

But counties in collaboration with national government have intervened to salvage the situation by providing foodstuffs to the most affected.

“In an effort to address the worsening situation, the county governments and the national government have carried out food distribution and livestock off-take programmes respectively,” Wambora stated.

The council is also calling on the government and other partners to come up with sustainable measure to support the county government on response management on drought seasons.

“In view of this situation, we are appealing to the national government and development partners to support counties to save lives and livelihoods,” he added.

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