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Nomadic groups targeted as ministry steps up Covid vaccination

Health & Science

The focus will be on the counties of Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The Ministry of Health is planning to vaccinate more than three million people against Covid-19 in 10 days, with focus on seven counties.

Acting Director of Medical Services Andrew Mulwa said the 10-day vaccination campaign will run from January 28 to February 7.

“We will take the shots to the people. People are not turning up at vaccination centres, so we want to get to them,” said Dr Mulwa.

Focus will be on the counties of Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir.

As of January 16, over 11 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administered. Of these, over six million people have been fully vaccinated and over four million partially vaccinated.   

Counties with the lowest vaccination rate include West Pokot, Garissa, Bomet, Kilifi, Marsabit, Narok, Mandera, Wajir, Turkana and Tana River-which is ranked lowest in vaccine uptake. Only 6,413, out of a target of 151,051 have been vaccinated in Tana River.

Wajir County Director of Health Dahir Somo said uptake of the jab was still low as people were not coming to hospital to get vaccinated.

“We have therefore decided to go meet them wherever they are,” said Dr Dahir.

Hesitancy is attributed to misinformation and disinformation on the jab. However, advocacy is being conducted to counter misinformation.

“Women believe there is some form of family planning in the vaccine, reason they are not picking it. People have taken misinformation on social media to heart. It is worrying,” added Dr Somo.

Prof Matilu Mwau, an infectious disease expert, explained that the nomadic communities “are virgin” in terms of Covid-19, hence it is very easy for them to be infected, hence the reason for stepping up vaccination.

“Nomadic communities are a special population, which risk getting infected. The government must-visit manyattas and rivers to reach out to the population,” observed Prof Mwau, who is also Kemri deputy director.

Dr Mulwa attributed low uptake of the vaccine in nomadic communities to the vastness of land with few vaccination sites.

“Targeted vaccination outreach is being done, to take the shots to water points and grazing land where the population is. They will mainly receive the single shot of Johnson&Johnson,” he added.

According to data from the Health ministry, Nairobi leads in vaccination with a total of 1,116,894 adults fully vaccinated, against a target of 3,052,494. Nyeri is ranked second with 84,799 adults fully vaccinated against a target of 510,028.

Other counties that have recorded high number of fully jabbed people include Laikipia, Kiambu, Kakamega, Taita Taveta, Uasin Gishu, Nyandarua, Muranga, Nakuru, Machakos, Kirinyaga and Vihiga.

However, uptake of booster shot launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on January 1 is sluggish. As per January 16 data, a total of 89,714 doses had been administered since January 1.

“The booster was meant for elderly and frontline workers. But with a policy at hand, we shall reach out to more people,” said Mulwa.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Education to vaccinate more children above the age of 15. Since December, 30,245 children have been jabbed.

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