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Home / Reproductive Health

Youth avoid vaccine for fear of infertility and altered menses

By MERCY KAHENDA | Mon,Sep 20 2021 07:00:00 EAT

 There has been no adverse side effects of the vaccines, among vaccinated adults, to warrant investigations. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Collins Angila, a youth leader in Kisumu has remained adamant against getting the  Covid-19 jab despite public education on its importance.

Angila, 32, questions the efficacy and side effects of the vaccines and why developed countries continue donating them to low income countries arguing that, ordinarily, “we give what we do not need” and he’s not comfortable with the supplies considering “in those countries, we still have deaths. How safe are these vaccines?” he poses.

Beatrice Mijide, from Vihiga County is also hesitant and wonders “what happens if I pick up the jab have my fertility affected? I do not have a baby yet,” says the 28 year old. “I do not want to risk.”

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The two are not isolated cases are many Kenyans are shying away from the vaccines despite increased accessibility. Dr Moses Masika, a virologist at the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) Institute of Clinical Research and Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi, said the importance of the vaccines outweighs risks.

Masika said there is no scientific-based evidence that links vaccines to infertility.

“All Kenyans should take Covid-19 vaccine. Risk of Covid-19 is far greater than any risk from the vaccine,” said Masika.

The researcher said there are various reasons that cause death, among the vaccinated population, that contract the virus. Data gathered from countries with high vaccination rates so far show that the unvaccinated are at a higher risk than the vaccinated from contracting and dying from the virus.

Dr Ombeva Malande, a vaccinologist and senior consultant in paediatric infectious diseases, a lecturer at Egerton and Makerere Universities said that Kenyans should develop trust with Covid-19 vaccines.

 “The vaccines may exhibit some side effects, just like any other, that are in use.” He said. “There are some effects like swelling of areas where the vaccine is administered, some patients may experience pain, tiredness and allergic reactions, effects that can be handled,” said the vaccinologist.

There has been no adverse side effects of the vaccines, among vaccinated adults, to warrant investigations, according to the Ministry of Health.

Kenya has received about five million vaccines from Covax and AVAT facilities and bilateral donations, according to the Ministry of Health. Its Covid-19 pandemic situation update of September 9, 2021 indicates that over 2.9 million doses have been administered, with uptake of the first dose at an average of 2.1 million.

A survey by Amref Health Africa revealed that more than 50 per cent of Kenya’s youth have adapted wait and see approach despite being influencers in Covid-19 vaccination drive.

According to The Determinants of Covid-19 Vaccine Behaviour Intentions Among The Youth In Kenya: A Vaccine Pre-Introduction Study, the youth fear side effects associated with the vaccines.

“Of those who are not ready to be vaccinated, 52 per cent say they are waiting to see the effects of the vaccine on those who have received it while six per cent are completely unwilling to receive the vaccine.” 

Among the effects listed include blood clots, infertility in men and changing the women’s menstrual cycle and majority of youth fear about not getting children or failing to function sexually in future.

Dr Geoffrey Kulabusia, an immunologist, explains that side effects attributed to the Covid-19 jab including swelling on injection site, vomiting, numbness on the arm, tiredness and headaches are similar to those from any other medicine and that the Covid vaccine has no markedly adverse side-effects.

Says Dr Kulabusia: “Experiencing side effects after vaccination means that the vaccine is working and your immune system is responding as it should, therefore it is important to be vaccinated.”

Despite the apparent laxity among some Kenyans, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe says vaccination efforts will be directed towards the willing and on voluntary basis since “people who don’t want to be vaccinated are currently not our problem, our concern is those who want to be vaccinated.”

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