All visitors to prisons will now be required to provide proof of vaccination against Covid-19, as officials seek to mitigate the spread of the respiratory disease in the facilities. Prisons Commissioner-General Wycliffe Ogalo said visitors must show evidence that they are fully vaccinated before being allowed in .This was said at Manyani Maximum Security Prison during a vaccination drive for prison staff and inmates.

“We will demand that those who come to visit our inmates must prove that they are safe by showing that they have been vaccinated,”

Last year, the government suspended prison visits to tame the spread of Covid-19 but officials plan to start allowing visitors again. The Ministry of Health and the Kenya Prisons Service last week launched the first phase of a vaccination program for prison staff and inmates.

Interior Chief Administrative Secretary Winnie Guchu said 90 per cent of prisoners in Kenya have been vaccinated against Covid-19.She said the campaign has faced challenges, including resistance among some inmates and staff due to misinformation and cultural beliefs.

“Some are resistant because of cultural beliefs that the vaccine may have negative effects on them. Some are also hesitant because of vaccine information on social media,”

Guchu said the government was not forcing inmates and staff to take the jab but has sensitized targeted groups on the need to be vaccinated.

“The people we have been vaccinating this week are those who were resisting the vaccine. We are slowly seeing a change and we hope that we will be able to achieve the 100 per cent vaccination target by the end of this week,” she said. She said the ban on prison visits will be lifted once all inmates have been vaccinated because the government is cautious and does not want to put staff and inmates at risk by opening prisons before they achieve the 100 per cent vaccination target.

Guchu said that the inmates have been requesting the government to allow their families to visit. And they have been consulting with the Ministry of Health, which advised them to vaccinate everyone before opening the facilities to the public.

The vaccination campaign is continuous and will target new inmates who check into the correctional facilities every day.