The government of Kenya is at the forefront of promoting Covid-19 vaccines across the country. Despite launching the rollout, there have been barriers associated with refusal or delay in accepting the vaccine, vaccine hesitancy and challenges associated with logistics in remote areas.
The North-Eastern region, formally known as the North Eastern province, comprises three counties, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera. The region is predominantly a pastoralist area with sparse population and logistics challenges like poor infrastructure. Consequently, vaccine uptake in this region has been a bit of a concern among stakeholders. However, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is looking to increase equity and uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the country. Marginalized areas such as North Eastern form part of the main focus.
To achieve greater equity in Covid-19 vaccine coverage, schools, health centers, government institutions, clinics and hospitals across the countries are being used to facilitate vaccination. The authorities continue to engage in community outreach drives in sub-counties across the region.
The active covid-19 vaccination centers in the North Eastern Region based on MOH are divided based on the three counties, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. The institutions involved are public hospitals, private hospitals and NGOs. Here is the list of MOH confirmed and certified vaccination centers in the three counties of the region;
In Garissa, the sub-counties centers include Dadaab Sub-County Hospital, Balambala Sub-District Hospital, Jara District Hospital – Masalani, Modogashe Sub-County Hospital, Bura District Hospital, Hulugho Sub County Hospital, Iftin Sub-District Hospital, Garissa County Referral Hospital, fo Hospital, MSF Dagahaley Main Hospital, Hagadera Hospital and Medina Hospital. The centers include private, NGO and public hospitals.
In Wajir County, vaccination centers are Eldas Sub County Hospital, Tarbaj Sub County Hospital, Wajir County Referral Hospital, Bute Sub County Hospital, Habaswein Sub County Hospital and Griftu Sub County Hospital. Unlike Garissa, all vaccination centers in Wajir are public institutions.
In Mandera county, vaccination centers include Mandera County Referral Hospital, Mandera North Subcounty Hospital, Mandera North Subcounty Hospital, Lafey sub-county Hospital, Mandera Central Sub County Hospital, Benissa Sub County Hospital, Kutulo Sub- County Hospital and Laisamis Sub- County Referral Hospital Marsabit. All the vaccination centers in Mander county are public institutions-sub-county hospitals, and clinics. There is intensive government involvement in ensuring that North Eastern regions receive equitable vaccination. The initiative is part of the overall government agenda to promote vaccination drive across the country.
Despite the milestones that MOH has achieved in the vaccine rollout, there remain challenges like misinformation among the public. The North-Eastern region, which is predominantly Muslim, is characterized by vaccine hesitancy. Some people, especially the elderly, are skeptical about the vaccine. For instance, there are myths, rumors and propaganda that the vaccine is weaponized as a depopulation tool. These are the challenges that the MOH must overcome to guarantee vaccination equity across the country. Misconceptions and misappraisal of infection threats are some of the issues that the Ministry must grapple with to improve vaccination rates across the region.
The ministry should therefore move fast to ensure correct information is given so as to change the attitude of the people towards the vaccine. The areas listed are some of the more densely populated regions of the province providing a good chance to reach more people in the region.