PanAfricare Blog

COVID 19 Vaccination and Awareness Rises in Vulnerable Communities in Turkana County


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March marks four years since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Kenya in March 2020. Through the VAN Program, a Two-year project funded by Rockefeller Foundation and Main recipient being AMREF Health Africa and the Sub-Recipient PanAfricare Kenya, vaccination coverage has greatly increased in Makueni and Turkana Counties where the program is being implemented. The two Counties were identified due to their fragile humanitarian settings that saw them register the lowest vaccine uptake in the Country.  From its start, the project prioritized the most vulnerable, such as health workers, older people, and those living in far to reach areas.

At the start of the program in 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination rate were less than the average in the two identified Counties. To date, the rate is now closing from the latest data from the Ministry of Health.

To achieve those rising numbers, PanAfricare Kenya collaborated with the respective Ministry of Health Departments that saw Community Health Promoters trained on administering vaccines in urban areas, remote villages and at times porous border points and elsewhere.

Turkana Central stakeholders meeting in Lokichar

In Turkana County, where  a majority of the population has not been fully vaccinated, PanAfricare worked with community mobilizers on outreach tactics such as home visits and vaccination campaigns in outdoor markets and communal spaces. By December 2023, the number of people were fully vaccinated had significantly increased. Among these were some of the hardest-to-reach communities such as pastoralists, food distribution centres and people from neighbouring countries and sub counties.

Additionally, Turkana County has been one of the project’s success stories in relation to integrated vaccination services; Among that group is Akutan Imuran, a resident in Nakitokirion village in Loima, Turkana County.Akutan is here to have her son vaccinated against measles, a disease whose outbreak has just been reported in the area.

“I’m very happy about the visit from the team because some people here in the community were never vaccinated or did not have knowledge about the COVID Vaccines and other necessary vaccines,” she said. “I told everyone I know about the medical outreach to come and get the much needed services.”

Without the medical outreach, she would have been forced to make a treacherous journey of 18 km on foot to the nearest health facility in Lomil.

Vaccination at an outreach site

Most of the centres in Loima and Turkana Central have seen the biggest jump in coverage rates after vaccination campaigns that were held from January 2022 to December of 2023. PanAfricare also assisted in logistics especially in cold-chain requirements of the vaccines and more.

                                       By Peter Outa, Communications Specialist, PanAfricare Kenya