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No Jab? No Services! Kenyans react to Government’s Vaccine Mandate

Article by Maureen Kasuku
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Posted: November 24, 2021  

On the 21st of November, Cabinet Secretary of Health Mutahi Kagwe announced that Kenyans will be barred from Government institutions, bars, restaurants and public transport from 21st  December if they are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

It’s not clear how the government will enforce this mandate- will we have to show an app or our paper-based vaccine certificates to gain access to transportation for example? What about the people who’d like to be vaccinated but haven’t been able to access the jab yet? Less than 10% of Kenyans have been vaccinated (source) which is partially due to vaccine apathy/resistance but also ongoing access issues in certain locations and age groups. Will it even be possible to give vaccinations to more than 20 million adults in under a month? 

The mandate has drawn both praise and criticism. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) issued a statement in support of the mandate through their Chief Executive Officer Carol Kariuki. “This is not only good for business continuity and the economy but also to protect others,” she said.

Amnesty International on the other hand expressed concerns that Kenya might not be able to vaccinate the majority of its population before the deadline and that many Kenyans will be locked out of essential services.  Amnesty Kenya’s executive director Irungu Houghton said the government directive was “unrealistic and flawed”.

On social media, opinion was divided. Some Kenyans welcomed the directive as a way to accelerate recovery of the economy while others claimed it mirrored the government’s hardline stance on the issuance of the Huduma Number and enforcement of curfews that were rolled out haphazardly. 

Others were on the fence about it. They opined that vaccines were important but forcing citizens to get the jab was bordering on authoritarianism.  Check out some of their reactions below.

We spoke to A, a long term American expat in Kenya. She says she has mixed feelings about the mandate because she understands that everyone in Kenya will suffer as long as some people in Kenya don’t get vaccinated. So, therefore, it’s important to have really strong incentives to encourage vaccine uptake. But she wonders about how the government will execute the logistics, especially if there are not enough vaccines in the country for all citizens.

We spoke to S.K, an 81 year old woman who is hesitant about getting her second dose of the Astrazeneca Vaccine. “I fell ill after my first dose and I’ve never fully recovered. My arthritis has only gotten worse since then. I am convinced my predicament was caused by the vaccine”. 

21 year old *M, a student at Nairobi Technical College says she needs more time to think about getting the vaccine. “I am not anti-vax. I just need more time to mull over it. I think these vaccines were rushed. Some of my friends claim they haven’t gotten their period since getting the jab and that’s worrying”.

*F, 27,  a lifestyle editor at a leading lifestyle website said she is pro-vaccine but against mandates. “This vaccine is important but the government forcing people to get it is wrong. It should be voluntary”. 

The government will start a 10-day mass vaccination campaign that kicks off on 26th November 2021. For more info, visit www.health.go.ke.

What do you think of the vaccine mandates? Tweet us @KenyaBuzz using the hashtag #VaccineKe and let us know.

 

About the author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life

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