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A public health official conducts public awareness in Nairobi's Mukuru kwa Njenga slum/FILE/MOH

Capital Health

Medics decry overreliance on aid amid slow progress towards attaining herd immunity

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) has expressed concern over the slow progress made by the health ministry in sourcing for and administering coronavirus vaccines.

KMPDU Secretary-General Davji Bhimji who addressed the press in Murang’a on Friday warned the COVID-19 crisis in the country could worsen if the national vaccination campaign fails to yield desired results.

“It is quite shameful that less than one percent of Kenyans and less than 0.3 percent of health workers have been vaccinated, this is happening because the government is over-relying  on charities and donations, there is a need for government to budget and buy vaccines for Kenyans and health workers,” he remarked.

Kenya has barely made progress towards attaining herd immunity, the only hope to contain and defeat COVID-19, with statistics from the Ministry of Health indicating only 0.86 per cent of the adult population had been fully vaccinated as of June 24.

Although the World Health Organisation has not indicated the specific proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity, developed nations have adopted targets above 70 per cent.

The United States of America and China set 70 per cent and 80 per cent targets to help their populations and economies cope with the pandemic.

“To safely achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, a substantial proportion of a population would need to be vaccinated, lowering the overall amount of virus able to spread in the whole population. One of the aims with working towards herd immunity is to keep vulnerable groups who cannot get vaccinated,” an advisory by WHO indicates.

As of June 25, Kenya had inoculated 1,220,151 people with the uptake of the second dose among those who received their first dose reported at 22.3 percent.

Medical workers’ unions countrywide urged the government to step up its efforts to vaccinate Kenyans even as they decried over-reliance on donations and charity for vaccines.

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In March, Kenya received 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of the COVAX Facility. In early June, it received another 630, 000 doses of the vaccine from Denmark

The country expects to receive an undisclosed number of doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the United States government by the end of June 2021.

The majority of African countries received their vaccines under the Covax scheme, and they were largely sourced from the Serum Institute of India.

When India stopped vaccine exports in response to its own urgent needs, manufacturers faced challenges in hastening production.

WHO had indicated in its projections Africa needed 200 million doses to vaccinate 10 per cent of its population by September 2021.




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