Community Health Worker Demystifies the COVID-19 Vaccines
Friday, 12 November, 2021
As COVID-19 continues to spread, Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Kenya are playing a pivotal role in educating communities on disease prevention and monitoring contacts and those under home-based Care.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines presents another task for CHWs. They have doubled their efforts to fight myths and misconceptions that spread like wildfire in communities. The communities have been exposed to false, inaccurate, or misleading information about the vaccines, hence, leading to slow uptake.
In the southern part of Nyanza, along the shores of Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest Freshwater Lake – meet Millicent Anyango, a Community Health Worker (CHW) leading the Arudho Community Unit. She has been at the forefront in the fight against the virus by creating awareness on the vaccines to a total of 225 households.
Millicent and other CHWs in her area have taken on the responsibility of informing the community on the process and benefits of vaccination. Despite such ongoing awareness efforts, there are people who still remain hesitant for various reasons. According to Millicent, lack of knowledge, and negative perceptions on the vaccines largely contribute to vaccine hesitancy and low uptake of vaccination services. “Many people are concerned about possible side-effects or reactions to the vaccines such as infertility and blood clots,” she says. “Others complain about the inaccessibility of the sites, decrying lack of transport to the vaccination sites.”
Every day, Millicent worries about high levels of vaccine hesitancy among her community. However, together with other CHWs, she remains committed to ensuring that each member of her community is immunized and protected. “I am fully vaccinated and serve as a good example,” she says.
With little knowledge about COVID-19, Millicent initially did not have the confidence to address her community’s information needs. However, through training by Amref Health Africa in Kenya, she is fully empowered to promote vaccine awareness.
With the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, over 17,095 CHWs in Kenya have been trained on COVID-19 prevention, management, and control, including key messages on vaccination.
“Convincing people to take the vaccine is an uphill task, but there is significant progress – we are almost reaching the desired destination. I will not give up until all my community members are vaccinated,” Millicent confidently says.
“I urge all leaders to ensure we have enough vaccine supplies at the facilities so that our work does not go in vain.”
Story by Maureen Cherongis, Communications Officer, External Relations at Amref Health Africa