Kagwe: No Covid-19 vaccine, no service

Kisii Teaching & Referral Hospital CEO Dr. Enock on receiving his 1st dose of the Covishield vaccine on March 17, 2021. PHOTO/FB

Kenyans will now be required to provide proof of vaccination before they can access in-person services at government offices.

The directive takes effect from December 21, 2021.

During a media briefing held on November 21, 2021, Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the move was necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.

According to the CS, the directive covers prison visits, public transport, hotels and restaurants with a sitting capacity of more than 50 people, appointments at the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) and visits to the port.

He defended the move from criticism as a step towards mandatory vaccination, saying getting the shot was still an individual choice.

“No one is forcing anyone to get the jab,” said the CS.

He also said the ministry is expecting the possibility of some aggrieved Kenyans heading to court to challenge the directive, terming it a usual habit.

“We know that some people may go to court to challenge the directive, but it is to be expected. That is Kenya for you,” he said.

The CS said while it was the right of Kenyans to go to court to challenge the move, there was no legal obligation for anyone to accommodate unvaccinated persons within their workspaces.

“It is not illegal for anyone to go to court and challenge the directive.
But there is no law that says that anyone should accommodate unvaccinated people who will endanger their lives,” said Mr Kagwe.

He also reminded anti-vaccination proponents that the Public Health Act is still in force, adding that the move was legally mandated.

At the same briefing, he also announced that Kenya has now allowed teens aged between 15 and 18 to receive COVID-19 vaccination.

This means that Kenyans within that age bracket can get the Pfizer vaccine.

The government has however clarified that the Pfizer jab is the only one so far cleared for administration to that age group.

While making the announcement, CS Kagwe said the clearance was part of the country’s efforts to vaccinate some 30 million people by the end of next year.

The Pfizer jab, which has been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has also been approved for emergency use covering people aged 15 years and above in the country by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).

Sunday’s announcement marks a significant advance in the journey to vaccinate a projected 30 million people by the end of 2022.

CS Kagwe confirmed the move, saying the PPB had cleared the jab for use among people aged 12 and above.

“Pharmacy and Poisons Board has reviewed and given emergency use authorization for the administration of Pfizer vaccines for all persons 12 years of age and above as recommended by WHO,” said the CS Kagwe.

He further revealed that the country was expecting an additional 4 million Pfizer vaccine doses targeting the younger population. This age-group is comprised of 5.7 million citizens.

“We are expecting 4 million doses of this vaccine which will be administered to the teenagers,” he added

So far, Kenya has received 10.7 million doses of assorted vaccines.

As the vaccination program proceeds, the country is still set to receive 8 million more doses in the coming weeks.

The program, he says, will also require the country’s younger population to get vaccinated.

“This means that beyond our adult population, we must also vaccinate the young people who in most cases, though not bearing the burden of the disease, are the main carriers and therefore spreaders of the virus,” the CS told the media.

He added that inclusion of teenagers in the vaccination schedule would reduce their chances of getting infected and spreading the highly contagious viral disease to others.

“As such, it is important to get them vaccinated to reduce their chances of transmitting the virus,” he said.

As at November 20, 2021, Kenya has administered a total of 6,388,427 COVID-19 vaccines.

A total of 3,986,501 Kenyans have been partially vaccinated while 2,401,926 are fully vaccinated.

The ministry of health expects to fully vaccinate some 10 million adults by the end of 2021.

The process has however been hampered by vaccine hesitancy that has been fuelled by misinformation, conspiracy theories on the intention of the vaccination program, religious beliefs and superstitions.

So far, the Astra Zeneca, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are locally available for free at designated public health facilities.

If you wish to get vaccinated, log on to the ministry of health at the htpps/portal.health.go.ke and once your details are confirmed, the ministry will book your vaccination appointment.

You can also read Go for Covid-19 vaccine, doctors now tell pregnant and breastfeeding women

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