Health stakeholders in Kwale County have expressed concern over the low rate of acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine in the region.
They blame the hesitancy from healthcare workers and others at the frontline of the coronavirus fight over fear of side effects that may arise after taking the shots.
Area County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri who co-chairs the County Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee with area Governor Salim Mvurya regretted that the vaccination rollout was progressing slower than expected.
Kanyiri said some 2448 of the targeted population of healthcare workers, teachers, police officers and elderly persons have received the AstraZeneca vaccine shots at designated health centres since the vaccination exercise started.
The administrator said the initial vaccination campaign that would last until June targeted to reach 10,000 people inclusive of those in high-risk groups noting that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe, effective and meant to save lives.
“Out of the 2448 recipients 933 are female, 1514 are male, 903 healthcare workers, 282 police officers, 434 teachers, and 829 are elderly persons and one intersex,” he said. He went on: “From the statistics, it seems many of our security personnel are not comfortable taking the vaccine.”
He underscored the need to combat the hesitancy that was slowing vaccination efforts in the coastal county that had targeted to vaccinate 3,000 security officers, 2,500 healthcare workers and over 500 teachers in the initial phase.
Kanyiri urged those targeted in the first round to turn up in large numbers for the shots which he said are critical in the fight against the pandemic.
The county chief urged everyone to counter the untruths and misinformation surrounding the vaccination campaign in a bid to eradicate the disease.
On his part the County Health Executive Francis Gwama blamed the low vaccination rates and unwillingness to receive the jab on the lies and misinformation surrounding it.
Gwama noted that residents were vaccine hesitant which threatens the efforts to reach herd immunity needed to properly contain the virus that has upended day-to-day lives across the globe.
“Lies and misinformation spread about the Covid-19 vaccines should be ignored as the vaccines are completely safe and effective,” he said adding that healthcare workers should be stepping up to show the public that they believe in the Covid-19 vaccination.
He said Kwale’s virus outbreak remains much smaller than in many other counties but added that people should continue taking seriously public health directives and protocols in the wake of the coronavirus disease.
The health executive revealed that the county has so far received 6,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with about 10,000 doses expected in the next few weeks.
He said the vaccine rollout is taking place at designated health centres spread in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and Lunga Lunga sub counties and appealed to residents to seek correct information regarding the Covid-19 vaccines from credible and authentic sources.
By Hussein Abdullahi