Bringing COVID-19 Vaccination Closer to the People

Helping increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Lucas Odhiambo
COVID-19 vaccination
22 August 2022

This article first appeared in The Star on August 22, 2022.

Between 22 and 31 July, UNICEF and partners supported the Government of Kenya to implement a national COVID-19 accelerated vaccination campaign in 24 counties, thanks to funding from the German Federal Foreign Office. The campaign aimed to bring vaccines closer to people by setting up mobile vaccination sites in marketplaces, bus stops, places of worship, academic centers, government institutions and in rural areas, targeting elderly people in the villages.

A vaccination site outside Makinon Market in Mombasa County
A vaccination site outside Makinon Market in Mombasa County.

This was the first phase of the accelerated campaign, which also saw the training of over 19,000 health workers. The campaign aims to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake, working towards a target of vaccinating the entire adult population of Kenya by the end of the year, with a focus on hard-to-reach populations and young people.

Educating people on the importance of COVID-19
MoH vaccinators educating people on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination at Makinon market in Mombasa County.

In Mombasa, one of the 24 counties identified as having large numbers of people still unvaccinated against COVID-19, the campaign targeted marketplaces such as Makinon Market in Mvita Sub- County. Mbwana Suleiman, 29, a boda boda rider at Makinon market was among the first to get vaccinated, “I was a bit reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the last year due to the myths and misconceptions around on social media.” Suleiman said. “I also didn’t get time to go to a health facility. But today, I am glad the vaccinators came to the market and I was able to get the shot without having to leave my working place. They also explained to me that it is important to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect myself, my boda boda clients and my young family back at home.”

Mbwana Suleiman
Mbwana Suleiman, 29, a bodaboda rider gets vaccinated at Makinon market in Mombasa County.

Mzee Abdulkarim, 68, also stopped by Makinon market to get his booster shot, “I was among the first people to get the vaccine once it became available to us here in Mombasa.” he explains. “Because of my old age, I am more vulnerable to getting COVID-19. That is why I have always been in the forefront in getting the vaccines. I have to keep safe for my grandchildren who I love so much. I encourage everyone to go get vaccinated as it is the safest way to prevent yourself from getting severely sick from COVID-19.”

Mzee Abdulkarim, 68
Mzee Abdulkarim, 68, getting his booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine at Makinon market in Mombasa County.

Initially, demand for COVID-19 vaccines was high, but after vaccinating people who were willing to come to health facilities, it has become necessary to go out into communities and persuade people to get the shot. Other participating counties in the first phase of the National COVID-19 accelerated vaccination campaign included, Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Embu, Homa Bay, Kajiado, Kericho, Kisii, Kitui, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Migori, Muranga, Nandi, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Uasin Gishu counties.

This will be followed by a second phase, which will target an additional 20 counties.