EYES ON THE BALL

MoH banks on outreach to attain Mashujaa Day vaccination target

So far, slightly above 4.2 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 countrywide

In Summary
  • The ministry targets to reach at least 5.8 million people by Mashujaa Day.
  • So far, slightly above 4.2 million people have been vaccinated countrywide.
Vaccines deployment taskforce chair Dr Willis Akhwale
Vaccines deployment taskforce chair Dr Willis Akhwale
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The government is banking on community mobilisation at the lowest levels and political goodwill to attain the Mashujaa Day vaccination target of 5.8 million.

So far, slightly above 4.2 million people have been jabbed countrywide, with the government now targeting 1.6 million in the next one week.

However, low uptake of the vaccines has been an issue, with the Health ministry now calling on both politicians and county governments to be vibrant and organise community outreaches that would enable those unable to come out for the jab to be reached.

Speaking on Tuesday during the daily Covid-19 update at Afya House, Nairobi, vaccines deployment task-force chair Willis Akhwale was, however, optimistic that the targets are attainable.

Counties will now be required to conduct mass outreaches in places of worship and targeting sectors such as the matatu, with local leaders such as chiefs required to pass the information to people at the grassroots level.

The ministry also depends on community health volunteers to go to households to reach out to those unable to come out, especially the elderly.

“We continue to believe that this is going to be attainable and what we believe needs to be done is sustained community mobilisation at the county level.

"Bringing together political leadership and county government leadership and other leaders at the lower levels is going to be very key to sustain people to come for the vaccines.

“We now have over 7.5 million doses of five types of vaccines and these have been distributed. We even started vaccinating with Pfizer last week so access is now not so much an issue but is for people to show up,” DrAkhwale said.

The ministry targets at least 5.8 million people by Mashujaa Day, at least 10 million by the end of December and the entire adult population of 26 million by year-end.

With projections of a possible fifth wave by month-end, the government is banking on the vaccination as the key weapon in the fight against any severe disease that would otherwise overrun healthcare facilities and lead to serious deaths.

According to projections, health experts have warned that the fifth wave is likely to start from around October 21 and is expected to peak towards the end of November before declining in January next year.

The wave is projected to coincide with the October-November flu season. A possible sixth wave is projected in March next year.

The experts have, however, noted that unlike with the previous waves, the public is now more informed about the disease and the containment measures put in place to contain its spread such as social distancing, masking and handwashing.

“The government has played its role and will continue to do what it needs to do but it is now reaching a point where that personal decision to protect your health is going to be the most important factor to take our vaccination drive forwards.”

The government has prioritised the vaccination of frontline healthcare workers, teachers, security personnel, those with comorbidities and people aged above 50 years.

Data show that 80 per cent of deaths reported in the country to date have been recorded in people aged 58 years and above. This is because of their weakened immunity as most of them tend to have preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

-Edited by SKanyara