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Uptake of Covid-19 vaccine low in frontier counties, says report

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy STANDARD TEAM | 2 weeks ago
By STANDARD TEAM | 2 weeks ago

A report on the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine indicates that Northern Frontier counties are lagging behind.

Apart from the frontier counties, some of which have infrastructural challenges, Eastern, Rift Valley and Western regions are also still struggling in the programme that initially targeted medics and other frontline workers.

For instance, few medics in Nyamira County have taken up the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Out of the more than 800 people who have been vaccinated in Nyamira, less than 200 are workers in the medical field.

Nyamira Health Chief Officer Jack Magara attributed the slow rate of vaccination among medical workers to the stringent protocols followed in administering vaccines alongside other programmes like sensitisation of the populations and ensuring there is no interference in workflows in the respective departments.

In the North Rift, health officials have resorted to community mobilisation to boost uptake of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine among the elderly and frontline workers.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and County Commissioner Wambua Muthama have taken the lead in sensitising the community on the advantages of the vaccination.

Lowest uptake

The county has recorded the lowest uptake of the vaccine in the country, according to records by the Ministry of Health. County Director of Medical Services Gilchrist Lokoel said involving leaders in the vaccination drive would enhance trust and confidence of the vaccine among locals.

“Leaders and health professionals are reaching out to disseminate information on the importance of the vaccine, allay fears, myths and misconceptions,” said Dr Lokoel.

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In West Pokot, vaccination has been expanded to Chepareria Sub-county Hospital, Ortum Mission Hospital, Sigor Sub-county Hospital and Kacheliba Sub-county Hospital.

County Health Director of Medical Services Samuel Lopar said the expansion of the vaccination centres was aimed at reaching out to the elderly population and vulnerable people in the community.

By Friday last week, the county had vaccinated 1,265 people from the 6,000 vaccines it had received from the Ministry of Health.

Uasin Gishu is leading in the vaccination exercise, with at least 15,933 people having received the jab by Friday last week.

In Garissa, about 310 healthcare workers and 199 security officials have received the jab.

In Nakuru, Health Executive Kariuki Gichuki said the county had used 93 per cent of the doses it was allocated.

“Nakuru County received 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine out of which 3,000 were allocated to military facilities. Of the remaining doses, we have already administered 20,878 to the residents,” said Dr Gichuki.

But in Samburu County, a paltry 1,300 people have received the jab against a total of 3,000 doses dispatched to the county since the exercise was launched on March 8.

High turnout

Although there has been slow reception of the vaccine among the residents, the county government has reported a sharp increase in the number of people seeking the vaccine since last week at the county’s vaccination centre at Samburu County Referral Hospital.

Meanwhile, 9,934 Kericho residents have been vaccinated. The county received 12,000 doses of the vaccine.

In Machakos County, the low uptake of Covid-19 vaccination has largely been linked to shortage of the vaccine.

As of yesterday, 9,033 people had been vaccinated. The county has so far received a total of 11,000 does of the vaccine.

Nyeri and Laikipia counties, officials have attributed the high turnout to sensitisation of residents. Isiolo and Meru counties have, however, record low uptake of the vaccine.

Isiolo Health Executive Galma Wario attributed the low number to reports by international media that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been linked to blood clots.

In Meru, Health Executive Misheck Mutuma said initial reluctance by medics to take the jab had been overcome and they were about to exhaust the 6,000 doses they had been allocated. Laikipia County had by Tuesday afternoon vaccinated over 70 per cent of its health workers from the public and private health facilities and over 7,000 other people.

Busia and Kakamega counties have recorded increased uptake of Covid-19 vaccines.

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