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Ministry of Health to Prioritize Teachers and Health Workers in COVID-19 Vaccination

Teachers will be among the first group of Kenyans to take the COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccination against COVID-19 is seemingly going to happen in early 2021 according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The government shall prioritize educators because of their higher level of vulnerability to contracting COVID-19 in order to limit the interference of classes, the Ministry of Health and Unicef have revealed.

Records from AON Minet, the teachers’ medical insurance scheme, show that COVID-19 has taken the lives of 36 teachers by the end of November 2020. Of these, 15 were school principals.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) to the Ministry of Health Mutahi Kagwe affirmed that his ministry shall prioritize teachers and police officers.

Among the first group of people to undergo vaccination are people having health conditions, the elderly, and health workers.

“The hallmark of a successful vaccination campaign is that the government must vaccinate as many people as possible,” said Mutahi Kagwe.

The Health CS also announced that people will only jump ahead of the queue once the first cohort has undergone vaccination.

Unicef, on its own, said that educators must be included in the first cohort of people undergoing vaccination because all classes shall reopen on January 4, 2021.

“Unicef is urging the prioritization of teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccination, once frontline health personnel and other high-risk populations undergo vaccination. This will help protect teachers from the virus and allow them to teach in-person and therefore keep schools open,” Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore revealed in a statement.

“Decisions with the allocation of vaccines are the governments’ to make.  However, the consequences of extended missed or impaired education are huge, more so for the most marginalized. The longer children stay at home, the less they will likely return and therefore the more difficult it will be for their parents to resume work.”

Unicef Protest on Prolonged Schools Closure

“There is an assumption that is unsupported that closing of schools slows the spread of the disease, despite increasing evidence that schools are not the main driver of community transmission,” said the Unicef boss.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Register indicates that Kenya has 360,000 schoolteachers, most of them (211,046) in primary schools. Schools Board of Managers has employed another 26,813 teachers according to TSC boss Dr. Nancy Macharia.

In September, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation recommended guidelines on which groups governments should prioritize in the process of vaccinating while quantity is inadequate.

The framework is a guide to countries to prioritize health workers and healthy non-medical persons such as teachers who are directly involved in the COVID-19 response.

“The closure of schools has not only led to significant setbacks in learning for over 1.5 billion young people worldwide, but they have also undermined their socio-emotional development, and in many cases their health safety and health,” World Health Organization revealed.

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