Reaching the Most Vulnerable with COVID-19 Vaccine
Covid-19 was first detected in Kenya on March 13th, 2020. This was shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic. Since then, the government has put measures in place to reduce infections and mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
As part of its mitigation measures, Kenya kicked off its Covid-19 vaccination Programme on March 3, 2021, after receiving its first batch of 1.02 million doses of Astra Zeneca Vaccine through the COVAX facility. The groups prioritized for this were frontline health care workers, the elderly (58 years and above), and essential public service staff, including security personnel and teachers. The uptake of the vaccine was low partly due to misinformation among the community members. Some of the key misleading information was that vaccine caused sterilization, blood clots that can cause death, the weakening of the immune system, and COVID-19 infection itself.
Since May 2021, Kenya Red Cross Society with funding from the Danish Red Cross has been implementing the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out Project in Nairobi, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, and Mombasa Counties as well as in refugee populations in Dadaab and Kalobeyei. Some of the key targeted groups for this project are the elderly, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Urban Refugees, and Persons Living with Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCDs), whose existing conditions have heightened their vulnerability and increased impact from the pandemic. Despite PLWNCD being categorized by WHO as a high-risk group for Covid 19, they were not prioritized by MoH for vaccination in the first phase. The project works with the national, county government, and local communities to demystify misinformation on the Covid-19 vaccine, hence, increase the vaccine uptake and expand the target groups prioritized for the second phase of vaccination to include the urban refugees, elderly, and PWDs, and PLWNCDs through advocacy and community engagement.
A cohort of 540 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) was trained on the Covid-19 vaccine, including the key vaccination messages to demystify existing myths and rumors. Sensitization on the vaccine and the vaccination points is ongoing, with the vulnerable groups being the key target audience. This is expected to increase the vaccine uptake during the second vaccination phase, especially by the vulnerable groups. The CHVs will also act as agents to link the community members to the vaccination points and coordinate with the NMS team to ensure technical support. The project conducted a survey on why people are hesitant to take the vaccine to help inform solutions on how to ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated. The findings will be utilized to formulate strategies through messaging, IEC materials for health education, demystifying the myths and conception associated with COVID 19 vaccine.
About Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)
The KRCS, a voluntary humanitarian organization created by an Act of Parliament (Cap 356 of the Laws of Kenya, 21st December 1965), is auxiliary to both national and county governments. It works closely with communities, volunteers, and partners to ensure the efficient delivery of humanitarian response and development services. The KRCS’s vision is to be a sustainable, effective, and trusted humanitarian organization serving present and future generations. KRCS work is guided by four core values including, Service to humanity; Integrity; Respect, and Innovation. And the value proposition being “Always There”.
PR and Communication Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society