President Uhuru Kenyatta.

A directive by the head of civil service to all government employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 has been dealt a blow after President Uhuru Kenyatta said inoculation is voluntary.

However, the Head of State has called on Kenyans to get the jab, saying that it is safe and important for their health and that of their loved ones.

“We are going to force anybody. It will be your decision whether you want to take or not. But I would like to encourage especially those who are in the bracket the most vulnerable that it is essential to get vaccinated,” said the President during an interview with editors at Statehouse, Nairobi, on Monday.

The directive which had set an August 23 deadline sought to have all civil servants who have not received a shot on the arm face disciplinary actions, including denial of access to offices, stoppage of salaries, and withdrawal of allowances and benefits.

Read also: Kenya sets daily Covid vaccination target at 150,000 shots

The order had already attracted criticism from the Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general Collins Oyuu who called on the government to stop issuing ultimatums on vaccination, saying the vaccines are yet to reach some places.

It is, however, not clear if the disciplinary actions will be taken against the civil servants as the matter is expected to be decided in a court on Friday, August 27.

This is after an advocate in Nakuru moved to court challenging the directive, saying explanation should be given on how a medical issue turned into a labour matter.

Latest data from the Ministry of Health shows only 9.1 per cent of the priority groups have been fully vaccinated, leaving 91 per cent of the members vulnerable.

A total of 2,501,198 vaccines have so far been administered across the country. Of these, total first doses are 1,714,858 while second doses are 786,340.

The uptake of the second dose among those who received their first dose is at 45.9 per cent with the majority being males at 55 per cent while females are at 45 per cent.

The proportion of adults who are fully vaccinated is 2.9 per cent.

The uptake of the second dose by those aged 58 years and above is 236,040; health workers 131,632; teachers 119,169; security officers are at 65,485 and others 234,014.

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