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Kenya becomes 4th country in Africa to receive coronavirus vaccine

2.5 million AstraZeneca jabs expected in the country by May

Kenya has become the third country in Africa to receive the coronavirus vaccine from the COVAX facility being spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

One million and twenty-five thousand dosses arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Tuesday a few minutes past 11 and were transported by the UNICEF.

After Ivory Cost Ghana and Nigeria, Kenya became the third country on the continent to receive the coronavirus jabs, with Nigeria waiting in the line, which ordered 4 million doses.

In the East African Community (EAC) Kenya is the first to receive the jabs.

Senior government officials including the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe were at the airport to receive the shipment, marking a historic moment for the fight against the deadly coronavirus that has left the economy in a dire situation.

“This is a historic day for Kenya, marking an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” Cabinet Secretary for Health Hon Mutahi Kagwe said.

“This has been made possible by the leadership of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the hard work of the Ministry of Health. I would like to thank UNICEF, WHO and GAVI for their support in procuring and transporting these life-saving vaccines and the Kenyan people for their cooperation over the past 11.5 months.”

The vaccines arrived on Qatar Airways flight QR1341, which was met at the airport by Kagwe,  UNICEF Representative to Kenya – Maniza Zaman and WHO Representative to Kenya – Dr Rudi Eggers.

According to Professor Omu Anzala, the COVID-19 vaccine will help build one’s immunity by reducing the severity of the disease thus reducing the level of hospitalization and mortality arising from the disease.

Kenyans, the Prof. says, will still be required to continue wearing masks, wash hands and keep social distance to reduce their chances of reinfection.

“We will now be using biological defense. Previously we were looking at social distancing, wearing face masks but now we have added an additional measure which is use of vaccine and is a big addition to the control of the virus.” Said prof Anzala.

The vaccine will be administered for free through the public health system.

“Nobody is going to be forced to take the vaccine. Maybe later when they will be available through private sectors, there’s going to be a fee but as for now for those who need it in pahse one there will be no cost.” Added the Professor who spoke to Metropol TV.

According to a local online news outlet, Citizen Digital, vaccines will be moved from central vaccine stores to nine regional vaccine stores, from where the counties will collect and distribute the vaccines to local hospitals at the county and sub-county level.

The first vaccination sites will be one nominated vaccinating health facility per county, the national referral hospitals and select private health facilities.

South Africa had placed an order for the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine but due to the new strains of the virus, President Cyril Ramaphosa rescinded the order and is now opting for the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

The single-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson was the first to be used outside a clinical trial.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the United States a third tool to fight the pandemic as highly contagious variants start to take root across the country.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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