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Thousands of Kenyans have skipped their second Covid-19 doses

Empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine inside a plastic bag with Kenya's coat of arms printed on it.
Reuters/Raz Batner
The health ministry is appealing to people to show up for the jabs.
By Carlos Mureithi
Published Last updated

The Kenyan government is tracking at least 90,000 people in the country who have skipped their second Covid-19 doses. The health ministry is requesting them to show up for the jabs and has said it is trailing them through its Covid-19 vaccination platform.

“Our appeal is for you to come out, go to the nearest vaccination center, and get vaccinated,” said Patrick Amoth, an acting director-general at the health ministry.

Kenya has authorized the use of five vaccines—AstraZeneca/Covishield, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson for Covid-19 inoculation—with the first four requiring two doses each.

African countries are struggling with acquiring Covid-19 vaccines

Kenya has recorded 243,929 Covid-19 cases and 4,923 deaths from the disease. Like most other African countries, it has struggled with acquiring Covid-19 vaccines because of unequal distribution to rich countries and an underperforming program, Covax, that was intended to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries.

The country has so far received 5.4 million vaccine doses for Covid-19 and about 829,000 people have received their second doses. This means one in 10 people who got their first dose haven’t gotten their second.

“They must come and get the second dose. When you have partial protection, your body is not fully challenged to be able to fight the virus when it comes,” said Willis Akhwale, the chairman of the country’s Covid-19 vaccine deployment task force.

Why are people skipping their second doses?

Scientists are studying the effects of mixing different doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and most combinations have not reported severe side effects. Kenya’s health ministry suspects people skipped their second doses because they want to get vaccines that they believe have higher efficacy.

Amoth said the ministry is tracking the people through their details from its Covid-19 vaccination platform, and with the help of health volunteers and a community policing system. “If you’re waiting for a different vaccine, please don’t delude yourself,” he said. “All of them [vaccines] are efficacious.”

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