Majority of Kenyans welcome COVID-19 vaccine, some worried about side effects: AVF

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receives the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 26, 2021.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receives the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 26, 2021.

A new study by Africa’s Voices Foundation (AVF) to understand Kenyan citizens’ views and attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination has found that majority welcome it while others have concerns regarding side effects.

From the analysis, 39% (n=594) of participants indicated that the arrival of the vaccine is a good thing that will help to stop the virus and 24% (n=370) suggested that more people need to be vaccinated across the country.

By contrast, 16% (n=245) did not have faith in the vaccine or expressed mistrust.

On the other hand, 7% (n=106) were worried about the vaccine’s side effects, while 4.1% indicated that government officials should be among the first in getting the vaccine.

Some participants also said that there is need to educate the public on the vaccine.

AVF undertook the survey via SMS  at the time when the government started its vaccine roll out in the 622 vaccination sites across the country.

Participants were contacted via SMS a pool of 4645 participants and asked: “As Kenya deploys its first doses of Covid-19 vaccination, we want to ask: What are your thoughts on the Covid-19 vaccination?”.

The messages were also sent in Kiswahili: “Wakati Serikali inaendelea kupeana chanjo ya COVID-19 katika maeneo tofauti nchini, tungependa kukuuliza: Je! Una maoni yapi kuhusu hii chanjo ya COVID-19?.”

A total of 1525 participants sent relevant messages in response to the question.

“Participants have engaged with AVF’s interactive radio programming in the past and it is their decision to respond to the question or not, so this is not a representative sample,” said Samuel Kimeu, Executive Director of Africa’s Voices Foundation.

He said the views which come from at least 44 different counties provide an indication of the existing attitudes towards the vaccine.

Following the analysis of the responses, AVF drew the following insights:

Insight 1. A largely very positive reaction from participants. The vaccine is welcome, and seen as a good thing that should be given to as many as possible.

Insight 2. A need for information, clarifying doubts and reassurance.

Insight 3. Although not a majority, there is still some level of mistrust and some opposition to the vaccine.

Insight 4. A call by participants to ensure that the most vulnerable and those in remote areas are reached and/or given priority.

Insight 5. A call from participants for fellow kenyans to follow the Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

A majority of participants (66%) were aged between 18 to 35. Also, more women than men took part in the survey (60% women – 40% men).

“All participants who texted in response to the poll automatically received a series of SMS from AVF which provided basic information on the vaccine roll-out plans, reassured participants of the safety and efficiency of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine; and encouraged participants to follow the prevention guidelines as only certain groups in the population are prioritised first,”Mr. Kimeu added.

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