By Gabriel Ingubu
Kenya’s Bungoma County has launched a rapid results initiative to administer over 170,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in 10 days.
Speaking during the launch, county Health Executive Dr Anthony Walela asked all the stakeholders in his department and the elite from the county to be good ambassadors of the vaccination programme by encouraging other residents to take the jab.
“So far our county stands at 32 per cent in vaccine uptake yet for us to be declared safe it should be 80 per cent,” said Dr Walela.
The county is listed among 24 others that are high risk areas, yet its vaccine uptake is still very low. “
Data obtained from the Health Department indicates that 577,032 people have taken the first dose and only 224,500 have taken two doses.
“I would like my health team to be pro-active enough so that we reach the 352,532 yet to receive their second dose,” said Dr Walela.
Bungoma is considered a hotspot for COVID-19 infections because of long-distance truck stopovers at all markets along Eldoret-Malaba road, which leads to Uganda with Bukembe and Kanduyi being the busiest.
The initiative comes amid calls on journalists to use all platforms available to increase awareness among pregnant women to take the jab.
Speaking during a cross-border science café organised by MESHA and AVACon July 6, 2022, Jean Nachega, Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Epidemiology at Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh University, emphasised that pregnant women reduce their immunity, especially during their last trimester, so protecting them should be given a priority.
According to Bungoma County Director of Health Services Dr Johnstone Akatu, 171 teams of three people each have been sent on an outreach mission across the county to administer the vaccine at health facilities, worship centres, and at strategic places like government offices.
“Research on COVID-19 is still ongoing. Recently we were giving the vaccine to those aged 15 years and above and now we can administer the vaccine to children from the age of 12 years upwards,” said Akatu. He also urged his staff to keep testing, saying that in the second week of July, 98 people tested positive, yet many people have relaxed their guard against the infection.
At the launch of the initiative, 16 people were vaccinated within one hour.
Among the counties enlisted to participate in the programme are Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Embu, Homa Bay, Kituyi, Kajiado, Kericho, Kisii, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Migori, Mombasa, Murang`a, Nandi, Nyamira, Trans nzoia, Turkana, Nyandarua, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi and Uasin Gishu.
If the counties realise their targets within the 10 days, it will be a boost for the national government to reach its target of vaccinating 25 million people by December 2022.