NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28- The Government has launched a 5-day mass COVID-19 vaccination exercise for inmates and prison staff at the Naivasha Prison.
The launch was presided over by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe who announced that prison visitations will resume once most of the inmates are vaccinated.
“We have more than enough doses for this purpose. The Ministry of Health has availed more than 100,000 doses, and our plan is to ensure the prison population is protected, not only as a matter of government policy but also because it is a human right,” Matiangi said.
By the end of the 5 days, the government aims to have vaccinated 50, 000 inmates.
The exercise further targets 133 correctional facilities across the country.
Matiangi pointed out that the prisons industry has recorded over 91 percent recoveries of COVID-19 patients since the outbreak of the pandemic.
He attributed the success to timely interventions by prison authorities and support from donors and international partners.
“When the first COVID-19 case was reported in the country, our greatest fear was for the correctional facilities. Since then, we have lost a few of our officers and inmates, but it could have been worse without the level of management and support we have received from the Ministry of Health and our development partners,” he said.
The CS stated that positive infections and deaths have been reported in Homa Bay, Kericho, Kisumu, Nairobi, Bungoma, Narok, Nakuru, Samburu and Kisii correctional facilities among others.
Since May 2020, 9,622 prisoners and staff have tested positive for the virus, while 32 of them have succumbed.
Kagwe reiterated that the government is targeting to vaccinate at least 5.8 million by Mashujaa Day.
He assured the prison population that the vaccines are safe and urged them to disregard the myths peddled about the jabs.
“You didn’t come here to die. This is a correctional and rehabilitation facility. You are respected just like all other Kenyans and we must protect your lives. Our intention is to protect you and safeguard your welfare even as you spend time here,” Kagwe said.
Last year, the government suspended all visits to prison lines, borstal institutions and youth corrective training centers as part of the mitigation measures against spread of the virus
So far, the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS), in consultations with the Judiciary and the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ), has also released 6,220 remandees and convicts to decongest correctional institutions.
By Sep 27, over 3.6 million people had been vaccinated including 889, 298 who were fully vaccinated while 248, 515 had tested positive for the virus with 5,109 fatalities.