COVID-19 vaccines apathy, uptake and supply in Kenya

COVID-19 vaccines apathy, uptake and supply in Kenya

At least 3.3 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Kenya since the launch of the first phase of the vaccination campaign started on March 5, 2021.

Of these 859, 453 of adult’s population has been fully vaccinated.

In the recent COVID-19 trends over the past week Kenya has been hitting nearly a 5 percent mark positivity rate and a 4.2 percent as of Tuesday 20, September 21, 2021.

Similar trend has been observed in COVID-19 infection cases with Kenya reporting about 200 new cases over the past days.

so far Kenya’s coronavirus caseload stands at 246, 643 and cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,500,729.

Kenya has now received about 6.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. 200,000 doses of the China-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to aid in vaccination effort arrived over the weekend, making it the fifth type of vaccine to be deployed in the country, alongside Astrazeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer.  

Out of the total doses whch have arrived in the country, Kenya has only managed to administer 3.2 million doses, setting a clear picture of how the country lags behind in the vaccination programme.

Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of AMREF Health Africa has denied the apathy towards the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination by Kenyans, saying there is need to ramp up additional vaccination capacity in the country.

“No there is not apathy. There is high demand but the vaccines all came within a very short 2–3-week window so in the process of distribution and vaccination. Kenya needs to increase its vaccination capacity and speed especially outside Nairobi,” said Dr. Githinji.

Counties Vaccination Uptake

In the uptake of COVID-19 by the counties, Nairobi takes the lead with 819, 924 people fully vaccinated followed at a distance by Nyandarua at 43, 903 and Uasin Gishu with 77,608.

Others who featured at the top five with regards to vaccine roll out are Taita Taveta with 22,069 of its population vaccinated and Embu with 39, 094.

Garissa came as the least county with 2,111 people inoculated and Mandera County at 2, 370 of those vaccinated.

Other Counties which performed poorly in the rollout are Kwale at 3,463 doses administered then Lamu at 759 , Makueni at 6,223.

Africa Vaccination Rate

In early September, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that African countries have so far received 158 million vaccine doses.

37 percent of these has been supplied by the global COVAX facility with most acquired through bilateral deals and donations.

A 2020 Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) survey in 15 countries found that while 79 percent of respondents would take a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine hesitancy ranged from four to 38 percent.

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the African continent has fully vaccinated only 3 percent of its 1.2 billion people compared to around 54 percent in the US and 65 percent in the UK.

Eight of the African Union member states, including Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe had reached the global target of vaccinating at least 10 percent of their population. Mauritius and Seychelles have vaccinated more than half their populations.

As of September 15, 2021, Morocco had fully vaccinated 44 percent of its 36.47 million of its population, 55 percent in Mauritius and Tunisia 44 percent.

South Africa at 12 percent and Zimbabwe vaccinating 13 percent of its whole population.

At this rate, it appears that neither the African Union’s goal of 60 percent vaccination by 2023 nor the global vaccine distribution mechanism COVAX’s goal of 20 percent by 2022 will be reached in time.

A major reason for the low vaccination rate in Africa is said to be the lack of available supplies.

Africa manufactures less than one percent of all vaccines administered on the continent. Absent local vaccine production, African countries relying on COVAX for doses have faced severe supply shortages.

According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) suggests that vaccination hesitancy is too high in many countries to sustainably contain COVID-19 and only incentives can spur COVID-19 vaccination uptake.

Access to social media and religious beliefs has facilitated the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories driving the COVID-19 hesitancy according to the Africa CDC study.

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