Kenya: Rich counties hog bulk of Covid 19 vaccines

Of the about 1.8 million Covid 19 vaccinations carried out in Kenya so far, the bulk has gone to the richest counties and individuals.

During the same period, the Ministry of Health says 332 intersex and 61 transgender have been fully vaccinated. Another 225 intersex and 33 transgender had also received one dose.

This may be the first time the Kenya government is disaggregating official national data by both traditional and minority genders.

Nairobi, Nyeri, Uasin Gishu, and Laikipia have the highest vaccinations with the lowest achieved in Marsabit followed by Wajir, Madera Turkana, and Tana River counties.

A Covid 19 vaccination update published by the Ministry of Health shows wealthiest counties are way far ahead in the number of jabs and coverage compared to the poorest counties.

Wealthiest Counties

The data shows all top 10 wealthiest counties (as per the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics – KNBS ) Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Mombasa, Meru, Kisumu, Nyandarua, Kakamega, and Uasin Gishu had, apart from Machakos the highest Covid 19 vaccination either by coverage or number of immunized individuals.

By numbers, Nairobi led with 234,448 followed by Nakuru, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, and Nyeri each with about or over 30,000 immunized persons.

Counties with the least vaccinated arms are Tana River, Lamu, and Marsabit each with just about 600 vaccinated individuals.

The counties with the least Covid 19 vaccinations, the KNBS data also shows are among the poorest.  

They are also likely to have low child vaccination rates, high maternal deaths, and poor health care services.

Unpublished Data

This rollout of the Covid 19 vaccines in Kenya largely mimics the global picture where the wealthiest countries have most of the vaccines and immunizations.

For example, while about 74 percent of adults in the UK have received two vaccines only 2.6 percent or 695,690 of adult Kenyans are fully vaccinated.

Even at the individual level, unpublished data in Kenya shows a bigger percentage of the better off are getting vaccinated compared to the poorest.

Alluding to this data during a recent webinar Dr Loice Achieng Ombajo, told of more vaccinations in wealthier estates of Nairobi compared to slums and poor residential areas.

Dr Ombajo is the head of the infectious disease unit at Kenyatta National Hospital and a member of the national Covid 19 task force.

She suggested this may be because health workers favoured their peers and friends at the expense of the less connected poor Kenyans.

“Data shows low vaccination in people from poor estates in Nairobi which needs to be addressed,” she said.

Corruption

The Cabinet Minister for Health had earlier warned that some health workers may be charging for the otherwise free vaccine further alienating the poor.

The ministry data also shows more men than women have been vaccinated.  Data from Pharmacy and Poisons Board also show more men than women reporting side effects from the vaccines. By last week a total of 1,043 incidents of side effects had been recorded.

Of the 695,690 individuals who had received two doses by last week, 385,274 were males, 310,023 females 332 were intersex and 61 were transgender.

By last week Kenya had received 2,323,100 doses of vaccines from India, South Sudan, Denmark, France, the UK, and Greece.

The update shows the government targets fully vaccinating 3,133,674 by the end of August.

The ministry also targets to vaccinate about 10 million Kenyans by the end of the year. However, there is no indication of a Plan B in case it is confirmed that indeed the vaccines’ effectiveness wanes in under one year.

Such a development could see further tightening of supplies to poor countries and decisions made whether to vaccinate new persons or boost those already immunized.

About Gatonye Gathura 126 Articles
Science Journalist

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