Political and religious leaders in Taveta Sub-County have ramped up Covid-19 vaccination campaign by urging thousands of residents living along the Kenya-Tanzania border to go for the jab as a way of curbing the risk of cross-border infections in the region.
Taveta MP Naomi Shaban said vaccination was the surest way to conquer the Covid-19 pandemic.
She further cautioned them against being misled by fake news and widespread hoaxes being propagated by those opposed to the vaccines and alarmists who generated and spread alarming fake news especially in social networks concerning the safety of the vaccines.
“You should not listen to those who want to scare you with lies about the dangers of vaccines. It is safe. All of us need to get the jabs to conquer this virus,” she said.
The legislator was speaking at California village in Taveta Sub-County during the burial of Mr Samuel Mesanai Mnene, a veteran treasury official of Voi Sub-County treasury who succumbed to the disease on Monday at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.
Former Taita-Taveta Governor John Mruttu who also attended the burial told the mourners, that vaccines were available in public hospitals and urged the residents to go for their jabs when the expected consignment arrives.
The governor stated that some countries that had managed to vaccinate the bulk of their population were slowly easing the rigid health protocols imposed by their governments including relaxation of masking rules.
“Some countries that have vaccinated their people are now allowing them to go out without masks. If we want to get there, we must all get the vaccines,” he said.
The Kenya-Tanzania border has been a source of concerns for both security agencies and health workers who view it as a weak link towards the fight of covid-19 in the region. With reported frequent illegal crossing by local residents to Tanzania and back, there has been an intensified campaign to have local residents increase vigilance amongst themselves.
The former governor said the residents cannot afford to let their guard down until the government announced the pandemic was defeated.
Data from the Ministry of Health indicates 1,530,870 persons have been vaccinated to date, of which 512,127 have received their second jabs. So far, 152,400 health workers, 68,677 security officers, 126,322 teachers and 475, 000 other Kenyans have been vaccinated.
In Taita-Taveta County, 3,268 persons have been vaccinated. This represents 0.4 per cent of the total vaccinated population in the county.
Last month, Kenya received a donation of 358,700 doses of Astra-Zeneca from Denmark. This consignment is expected to bolster the government’s efforts in combating the pandemic.
However, residents in far-flung areas have called upon the government to take the vaccines closer to them to have them vaccinated.
Mzee Ernest Malasi, an elder at the Kenya-Taveta border at Kitobo village, noted that the long distance from the village to health facilities where the vaccines would be found was prohibitive.
He said that motorbikes were charging Sh200 to Taveta town and another Sh200 to take one back home.
“We don’t have that much money to pay to go get the vaccines. We want to get the jabs but the government can bring the vaccination centers to our local dispensaries,” he said.
Vaccination centers in Taita-Taveta County were located in the major hospitals in the four sub-counties.
By Wagema Mwangi