NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – The Ministry of Health on Thursday urged political, religious and community leaders to take the COVID-19 vaccine so as to boost confidence among Kenyans.
COVID Vaccine Taskforce Chairperson Willis Akwale said the government will give priority to elderly persons aged 58 years and above.
The appeal followed concerns by a section of Kenyans, especially those on social media, questioned why their leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and governors are not leading by example in getting the jab.
“The Ministry of Health calls upon all political, religious and community leaders to take the vaccine so as to boost confidence in the overall vaccination process among vaccination target groups,” Akwale stated.
The as been speculation on both the efficacy and safety of vaccine thus creating hesitancy even among frontliners.
Since the vaccination exercise was launched in the country three weeks ago, only about 60,000 people, mostly frontline workers, have been vaccinated. Few political leaders have publicly presented themselves for vaccination.
Kenya received 1.02 million vaccine doses at the beginning of March shipped in by UNICEF as part of the global COVAX alliance, which aims to provide equitable access to vaccines for all countries around the world.
The vaccines were availed free of charge as the Kenyan government did not incur any cost in procuring and transportation.
UNICEF vouched for the vaccine’s safety dismissing as propaganda claims that the jab could present health challenges.
“Vaccination is voluntary. Let me assure all Kenyans that I have absolute confidence in the vaccine’s safety and in its urgency, its importance and its necessity,” said Stephen Jackson the UNICEF representative in the region.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said it plans to scale up the COVID-19 vaccination for AstraZeneca and has called on more Kenyans to turn up. The inoculation is initially targeting healthcare workers.
The ministry’s Head of Immunization Programme Dr. Collins Tabu said vaccines have a short shelf life and therefore, require to be utilized on time.