A major scandal is alleged to have rocked the Coronavirus vaccination in Kenya, as hundreds of people, many well-connected, are said to have received the vaccine before their turn.
Some rogue health facilities are alleged to have been administering the COVID-19 vaccines to people not eligible for the phase one priority list, after receiving payment for the vaccine which is supposed to be free.
The order of vaccination is clearly regulated by the Ministry of Health. Medics, teachers and non-teaching staff, Police and Armed Forces and those working in the Ports of Entry were to be vaccinated first.
But in the last few days all manner of people including businessmen and politicians from around the country have found a way to receive the jab early.
While some are alleged to be using their connections with health workers to jump the queue and receive COVID-19 vaccines, some are paying anything up Sh100,000 to secretly receive early inoculations.
In the last few days there have been long queues at public facilities especially Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi and Mama Lucy where the vaccine is being administered.
But many especially politicians and top business owners are said to have been jumping the queue.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe yesterday said private facilities—which he did not name —are most affected in queue-jumping and drastic measures taken will include revoking of operating licences for such facilities.
“ I think somewhere along the line we seem to have developed some confusion that anybody can walk into a vaccination centre and get vaccines. I want to make it very clear, those carrying out vaccination will have to account for every dose that they have used and that dose that they have used must be matched against an eligible person.
“ Should we receive information to the contrary, we will have no alternative but to take whatever legal extent possible to us including revoking of practice licences. We know we have heard there are those who are now calling friends and relatives to vaccinate them, particularly in private hospitals and we would like to say that this is against the law, ” he said.
Chairman of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, Dr Wills Akhwale said some of the reasons we are seeing long queues is people think that if they get vaccinated now they will escape the third wave.
” Let us not jump queue, we have a very clear plan. The ICT registration platform is being finalised and will be tested this week. That will mean the prioritised group you will not have to go and queue on health facilities. You can use the phone and book the day you want to get vaccinated, ” he said.
The Nurses Professional Association defended the nurses giving the jabs, saying the sheer amount of work could overwhelm them.
National Nurses Association of Kenya president Alfred Obengo pleaded with Kenyans who are not on the priority list to avoid queuing for the vaccine. ” Even if you manage to cheat your way and you get the vaccine yet you’re not a frontline worker it means you have taken what was meant for a nurse or a doctor who is more vulnerable. Even in war we protect soldiers on the frontline the most, not those in the barracks. So the priority list remains and has not changed. “
CS Kagwe noted that even though there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm from the public who are eager to take the vaccine, the resources available at the moment cannot allow everyone to be vaccinated.
He said each dose administered against each eligible recipient is the only way to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability.
“ I saw it here at the ministry when we had a site here. Today, I saw pictures from Mbagathi that again look like a whole crowd of people. Queues are developing in those sites but we urge that we must follow the priority list, we must adhere to the guidelines given as to who should be vaccinated before who, ” the CS said.