By Abdi Ali
Published December 14, 2021
The announcement by Kenyan authorities that only fully vaccinated citizens will from December 21, 2021 will receive government services undermines basic rights to work, health, education, and social security for millions of Kenyans.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) argues that Kenya does not have a sufficient supply of Covid-19 vaccines to ensure that all adults can be vaccinated by the Health Ministry’s deadline.
“While the government has an obligation to protect its people from serious public health threats, the measures must be reasonable and proportional,” says Adi Radhakrishnan, Africa research fellow at Human Rights Watch. “Vaccination coverage hinges on availability and accessibility, and the government’s new measures could leave millions of Kenyans unable to get essential services.”
The services affected will include public transportation, education, immigration, hospitals, and prison visitation. Proof of vaccination will also be mandatory for entering national parks, hotels, and restaurants.
Though AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Sinopharm vaccines are available in Kenya, HRW says the country has of December 11 received about 23 million doses for its adult population of 27.2 million and a total population of 55 million.
The November 21 Kenyan vaccine requirement announcement by Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe does not provide details of how these new measures will be carried out and enforced nor does it provide alternative procedures for those who are ineligible for vaccinations or have a medical exemption, further risking arbitrary denial of access to services, HRW says.
The majority of vaccines currently available in Kenya require two doses for full vaccination, with the second dose administered 4 to 12 weeks after the first, depending on the type of vaccine. So, it is likely that even people who get their first shot by the December 21 deadline will still face restrictions.