The University of Nairobi (UoN) is set to commence COVID-19 vaccination for staff and students following the setup of a vaccination center at the University Health Services (UHS).
According to the Chief Medical Officer at UHS Lucy Ndahi, deliberations and efforts with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) have been successful and UHS will be one of the approved centers to administer the jabs.
“We are delighted to report that we have done all the logistics pertaining to setting up a vaccination center and very soon we are going to commence vaccinations at UoN premises,” Ndahi said during a webinar organized to sensitize UoN staff on the need to get vaccinated before the rollout of the exercise.
Ndahi said UHS was working hand in hand with the ICT Department to develop an online reservation system for the exercise to be conducted in a seamless manner and avoid overcrowding at the vaccination center.
On his part, the College of Health Sciences Principal Prof. James Machoki said staff from the college will fully support the vaccination exercise to ensure that the exercise runs smoothly.
In his address, UoN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama looked at the projected numbers of COVID-19 infections by the Ministry of Health saying there is need to immediately arrest the situation.
“These are grim and chilling statistics. We don’t want our staff and relatives to be part of these statistics. We must do what we can within our powers to divert the catastrophe. We must act responsibly to break the transmission chain and vaccinate our staff especially those in the vulnerable age bracket (above 58 years),” the VC said.
He said UoN staff and students in CHS are part of the national frontline Covid-19 warriors and that is why he asked the Chief Medical Officer, UHS and the Principal College of Health Sciences to work with the government and ensure the staff are also vaccinated in this first phase alongside other frontline workers.
The VC noted that vaccines always generate controversies because of the fears of side effects and that all medicines and vaccines have tolerable side effects and therefore the use of science to alleviate a societal problem should not be politicized.
“Don’t be sucked into the politics of vaccines like which vaccine is better than the other. I believe you have heard of rumors doing rounds that either Sputnik V is superior to AstraZeneca or vice versa. My advice to you is to follow the government directives and government approved vaccines,” Prof. Kiama said.
Prof. Kiama said people need to know that even after vaccination they can still get infected and therefore they should continue to protect themselves against getting infected by observing the prescribed Covid-19 protocols.
On COVID-19 research, the VC said UoN has some of the leading scientists in the world who have joined the rest of the global community in search for permanent solutions to the pandemic. He decried lack of requisite support to conduct research in the area of vaccine, but was optimistic that UoN can still make some significant contributions and impact through partnerships and collaborations.
Prof. Kiama thanked Prof. Amu Anzala, Prof. Walter Jaoko, Dr. Loise Ombajo and other UoN researchers and specialists who are always available to give the correct advice more so for being among frontline workers in the national fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
In his remarks, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Prof. Julius Ogeng’o said the vaccination exercise was well timed because UoN has aging population of teaching staff, majority of them are male and some have comorbidities that inherently increases the risk. A number of them have been affected from mild to death.
“We are working in the environment of a teaching population that is very vulnerable but with the student population that is youthful and not vulnerable but care free and have very high potential of infecting the aging staff. The arrival of a vaccination center to take care of UoN community is a delighting idea and we all look forward to it. I believe it is going to change a number of dynamics,” Prof. Ogengó said.
Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Human Resource and Administration Prof. Enos Njeru applauded UoN’s management for the proposed COVID-19 vaccine rollout to the University community saying the pandemic will soon end.
Four key researchers and experts delivered keynote addresses during the webinar to sensitize staff on the need to get vaccinated and allay the fears arising from misinformation and the politics of vaccines.
Prof. Anzala’s presentation touched on the emergence of new pathogens, research and vaccine development and how vaccines work, while Dr. Ombajo’s presentation focused on the COVID-19 situation in Kenya, clinical characteristics and management.
On the other hand, Dr. Marybeth Maritim’s presentation highlighted on AstraZeneca vaccine, vaccine characteristics, indications, contra indications, safety and safety monitoring and vaccine efficacy.
Dr. Richard Ayah presented on COVID-19 deployment plan with an assurance that the vaccine is safe and that there is no cause for alarm.