EAST AFRICA – Tanzania and Kenya have intensified their efforts to scale-up COVID-19 vaccination with a focus on vulnerable populations to improve pandemic response and boost natural immunity while preventing re-infections amid emergence of new variants.

Tanzania has launched a US$25 million COVID-19 vaccination campaign in partnership with the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX) in a move to increase vaccine uptake and overcome vaccine access barriers in the country.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign will ensure that vaccines are available to hard-to-reach and rural populations, increase health care workers’ abilities to support immunization initiatives and track vaccine safety, data, and analytics.

The Global VAX will also support various coordination activities in the fight against COVID-19 which will be tailored in consultation with the government of Tanzania to ensure that vaccine shots arriving in-country are delivered to people quickly, safely, and equitably

In addition, the vaccination initiative is in line with the Tanzanian government’s goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of eligible people by December 2022 to combat the spread of COVID-19 and the negative impact of COVID-19 on individuals, the health system and communities across the country.

The government has collaborated with COVAX along with other bilateral and multilateral funders to make available millions of vaccine doses to implement two phases of the Accelerated Community Based Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy.

Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu revealed that the first phase of the Covid-19 campaign implementation was conducted from 22nd September to 14th October last year, noting that it enabled the use of the Janssen vaccine to increase from 384,000 to 980,000 doses.

The second phase of the campaign enabled the pace of the vaccine expansion to increase from 16,000 to 64,000 targets per day, where the current target set per day is to vaccinate more than 59,774 nationwide,” added Ummy Mwalimu.

The accelerated COVID-19 vaccination efforts come at a time when the Tanzanian government continues to closely monitor the disease’s development especially in African countries and enhancing steps to manage it following the recent spike in cases reported in the Southern African countries.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Ministry of Health has stepped up efforts to enhance COVID-19 vaccine uptake and manage interventions to combat Covid-19 as the country experiences a rise in positivity rate from an average of 0.6 per cent per day to 3.6 per cent, with a weekly average of 3.3 per cent.

Our target as a Ministry is to vaccinate 100% of the adult population and 50% of the teenage population aged between 15-17 years by the end of the year. Currently 8.7 million Kenyans are fully vaccinated translating to 31% of the adult population,” Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said.

Susan Mochache disclosed that the Ministry targets to reach the 800,000 youth who completed their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Examination in April 2022, urging parents and guardians to encourage the young adults to be vaccinated before they join campus.

The Health Ministry has urged National Government Agencies, County Governments, Faith Based Organizations and the Private Sector to ramp-up COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the country during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign scale-up in a bid to ensure that all Kenyans are protected

Kenyans have also been encouraged to continue adhering to the public health and social measures as a personal responsibility including wearing of face masks in confined spaces.

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