A section of the clergy in Kitui County have expressed concerns over safety of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in the country last week.
The clergy is calling on the government to sensitise the public on the efficacy of the vaccine saying lack of knowledge is fueling fears amongst the public to embrace the vaccine rollout.
Led by Archbishop Raphael Kituva of the Good News Church of Africa, the religious leaders said the State must first address doubts shrouding the jab.
“Though the church is not against the vaccine, it is evident that most Kenyans remain skeptical about its safety and require more than verbal assurances from the government,” he said.
“Let medical scientists and pharmaceutical experts in the country undertake thorough screening of the vaccine before it is administered to the intended groups,” added Archbishop Kituva.
He spoke on Sunday during a thanksgiving meeting at Kathithu village in Kitui South constituency.
The Archbishop lamented lack of sensitisation and training of healthcare professionals by the government to provide adequate answers especially on fears of side effects and treatment outcomes.
“If you get the jab and develop complications, who pays for your hospitalisation? These are some of the questions in the minds of wananchi before the vaccine rollout,” he said.
Archbishop Kituva noted that lack of stakeholder engagement and public education on the importance and safety of the vaccine before its rollout is a recipe for a looming new public health emergency in the country.
“We appeal to the government to fill-in the gaps to ensure that the vaccine rollout is aligned with key messaging to answer the doubts raised by the public,” he noted.
This comes days after the Catholic Doctors Association opposed the vaccine and advised Kenyans to seek alternative remedies if sick with coronavirus.
While receiving the first batch of 1.02 million doses of the vaccine, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said priority will be given to medics and other front-line workers like police and teachers.
Josephine Mumbua said that she is thankful to the government for making sure that frontline healthcare workers are the first in line to receive the vaccine.
“As a health worker, am eagerly waiting to get my vaccine since I have been risking my life every day attending to people and I cannot quit my job because I am the sole provider of my family,” said Mumbua, who is a nurse based in Kitui.
James Kitonga, a business man in Kitui town said that the vaccine is like a new awakening for him.
“I own a few retail shops here in town and I have been registering losses since the start of Covid-19. But now that the vaccine is here, I am sure that our businesses will pick again and it will change our economic fortunes,” said Kitonga.
by Yobesh Onwong’a/Judy Kalekye