Kenya’s high court has suspended a government order that required everyone accessing public services and places to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 21.
Kenyan High Court Judge Antony Mrima put a hold on a government directive that would have denied services to unvaccinated persons beginning next week. A petition challenging the rule was filed last week by businessman Enock Aura, who argued the directive was illegal.
Rights group Human Rights Watch has called on the Kenyan government to amend the directive and avoid directives that undermine the rights of the people. Adi Radhakrishnan is an Africa research fellow at Human Rights Watch. He said the directive would block millions from accessing essential services.
“The requirement will risk the violations of the right to work, right to health, education and social security for millions. Vaccination coverage hinges on availability and accessibility and the new measures as initially announced could leave millions of Kenyans unable to access these government services like going to the hospital in person, going to the university, going to an immigration office for their ID card,” he said.
Radhakrishnan said health protocols should be followed and people’s beliefs should be considered on vaccine coverage. “While requiring proof of vaccination may act as a powerful incentive for people to be vaccinated, the way it’s carried out should account for the numerous reasons a person may not be able to receive the vaccine in time. These may include social, political and or economic barriers. Any vaccine requirement should be implemented with a broader public health strategy that emphasizes the accessibility of vaccines and other preventive measures for COVID-19.”
With a population of 50 million, Kenya has received 8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Kenya has recorded 256,000 coronavirus-positive cases and 5,350 deaths.