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Kenyan High Court temporarily suspends controversial vaccine mandate


Kenyan High Court temporarily suspends controversial vaccine mandate

Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

The Kenyan High Court has temporarily struck down a government vaccine mandate that would have been enacted today. 

The policy would have required anybody seeking government services or entering public spaces to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, international human rights organizations have decried the mandate given the low vaccination rate in Kenya. While the government succeeded in inoculating 8.2 million people at the end of last month, this figure only amounts to 10% of the population. 

The High Court must still hear and rule on a petition against the vaccine mandate before it is officially rejected. While Kenyan popular opinion is largely against the mandate, rising infection rates have sent Kenya’s positivity rate from 5% to 11% over the past week. Although the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant is thought to be weaker than the previous Delta variant, expect the rise in cases to foreshadow further civil restrictions imposed by the government. While Kenya aims to vaccinate 27 million people by the end of 2022, continually evolving variants combined with the necessity for additional booster jabs makes reaching this goal unlikely. However, Nairobi may try to impose mandates similar to those in Zimbabwe and Ghana which only require public employees to be vaccinated.  

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