The Ministry of Health (MoH) has rolled out the Covid-19 booster shot for people in learning institutions, mainly students and staff of all tertiary institutions.
MoH Principal Secretary (PS) Susan Mochache said the decision to launch the accelerated Covid-19 vaccination programme stems out of the realisation that a big part of the youthful population have yet to undergo the full Covid-19 vaccination.
Speaking on Thursday during the launch at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) headquarters, Mochache said statistics show that younger adults have not yet embraced the vaccination uptake campaign even when there is evidence that many of them actually contract the virus.
The situation is even worse on the youth who are expected to join universities and colleges.
“As of yesterday, only 1,468,375 doses had been administered to young people aged between 15 to 17 years, the group that comprises a huge part of the Kenyan population,” explained the PS.
She said that in total, 18,498,777 vaccines have been administered across the country. Of these, 16,604,882 are doses administered to the adult population (18 years and above).
“Our KMTC campuses have over 50,000 students who are the target of this vaccination programme. Our country is determined to reach the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that all countries reach the 70 per cent vaccination rate for general population but 100 per cent for those aged over 60 years, health workers and those with underlying health conditions,” said Mochache.
She explained that a recent report by WHO estimates that by May 2022, one billion people in lower income countries remain unvaccinated and only 57 countries have vaccinated up to 70 per cent, with a majority of them being high income countries.
“Further, WHO reports that vaccine supply has improved but uptake has not gone up. This has been credited to mis-information and disinformation, with the general public either has little information or none at all regarding the importance of getting the vaccine,” said the PS.
She highlighted that statistics released by MoH and reports from the hospital admissions, including ICU admissions, accruing from Covid-19 related complications show that the positivity rate in the country currently stands at 12.5 per cent.
“This only means that we cannot, and we must not, relent in ensuring that a huge population is fully vaccinated against the virus. Even though the country has done relatively well having 31.3 per cent adults above 18 years being fully vaccinated, we must do everything possible to fully vaccinate 19 million adults (70% of the adult population) by the end of June 2022 and the entire adult population of 27 million people by the end of the year,” said Mochache.
She added that during the same period, the government aims to fully vaccinate 2.9 million teenagers aged 15-17 years (50 per cent of the population) and the entire teenage population of 5.8 million by end of December 2022.
“Kenya has therefore laid out plans to administer at least 20 million vaccine doses between January and June 2022 to achieve the mid-year targets and has set specific targets for each of the 47 county governments with an objective of ensuring the administration of vaccine doses according to their population proportions,” said the PS.
She added that research conducted on the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine has revealed that immuno-compromised people might need a third dose.
“In addition, over time, the immunity, even for healthy people, starts to go down necessitating the booster shot for increased immune response. Further, the booster dose is critical in responding against emerging variants,” said the PS.
She commended KMTC for hosting the event and challenged all the campuses of KMTC to step up their role of educating communities on modes of Covid-19 prevention to curb the transmission of the virus.
“We have now ensured that under the accelerated Covid-19 vaccination programme, all the 71 KMTC campuses serve as vaccination centers. This is part of the critical role that KMTC plays in ensuring that Kenyans remain healthy,” she said.
“I am pleased to note that today we will be flagging off buses for various campuses to ensure students get to their clinical placement areas and the community easily and conveniently where they serve even as they learn, enhancing accessibility to health services,” said Mochache.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a