Study: Immunisation programs unaffected by COVID-19

Caption: Dr Patrick Oyaro: Myths and misconceptions affect the uptake of vaccines hence need to report on how prevention and control measures benefitted other health aspects.

By Asha Bekidusa I

MOMBASA, May 18, 2023 – Immunisation programs in Kenya’s Kilifi county did not suffer adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new research has revealed.

The study called Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccine coverage in Kilifi, Kenya: a retrospective cohort study found out that despite many countries experiencing disruptions in out-patient visits and routine immunisation services during the early days of COVID-19, immunisation of children within the Kilifi County was not affected by the pandemic.

It also revealed that immunisation visits for the third dose of the Pentavalent vaccine and Measles containing vaccine were maintained during the first year and increased during the second year of the pandemic.

According to Dr Ruth Lucinde, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, who led the study, issuance of guidelines for continuity of essential services and exemption of healthcare workers and individuals seeking care from movement restrictions may have contributed to this scenario.

Additionally, supplying counties with extra vaccines and immunisation supplies and postponing routine weighing services for children but advising mothers to return for all their vaccination visits also contributed towards this positive report.

While making a presentation, COVID-19 Vaccination Integration into Routine Immunisation noted that currently there is still uptake as health workers implement door to door vaccination. He also said that partners have formed the County Technical Working Group which is multisector for planning and coordination; and to assess readiness.

“We know that COVID-19 is no longer an emergency, but this does not mean it is over,” he cautioned the journalists attending the 80th Science Media café by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) yesterday.

Dr. Oyaro added that when COVID-19 measures were relaxed in the country there was a decline of uptake of vaccine in most counties including the Coastal region. Therefore, clear messaging and interpretation of public notice is important in managing responses to public health measures.

Naming myths and misconceptions as challenges affecting the uptake of vaccine, he advised journalists to report on the positives on how the infection prevention and control measures like wearing a mask and regular hand washing benefitted other health aspects like prevention/reduction of other respiratory and diarrheal diseases.

Anne Mweu from National Nurses Association of Kenya acknowledged the challenges that came with COVID-19 but noted that nurses are now better prepared to handle a pandemic than ever before as the shock and anxiety that at first accompanied the pandemic has been overcome by regular sensitization by the government.

Availability of resources such as personal protective equipment to protect the nurses and such resources were challenges however she noted that these are now available in the hospitals to offer protection to health workers countrywide.





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