President Kenyatta flags off first dispatch of COVID-19 vaccine
President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the first dispatch of vaccines from the National Vaccine Depot in Kitengela to designated areas in the country.
The AstraZeneca vaccine doses have been released to nine regions before the start of the inoculation exercise which is slated to begin on March 5, 2021.
The president said the first batch which arrived in the country on Tuesday was some of the other dosses that will be shipped into the country, noting that the jab will be availed to Kenyans as quickly and cheaply as possible.
“If you ask any expert, there is no country that will be able to be safe unless all of us are safe. So we all have an obligation to make sure this vaccine is made available as widely, cheaply and quickly as possible to all citizens of the globe. We will get more and more doses until we meet our requirement,” said Kenyatta.
Kenyans will have to keep maintaining the strict guidelines that were put up by the Ministry of Health, the President said, until the whole world was certain to have contained the deadly disease.
“This does not remove from every single citizen the obligation and duty to maintain the health protocols that have been given by our doctors and health experts. We must continue with face mask-wearing, handwashing and social distancing because ultimately these are the facts that will ensure we combat this deadly virus that has infected the globe,” he said.
However, despite the arrival of the vaccine, Kenyans have continued to paddle false information about the jabs. The president urged Kenyans to avoid propaganda around the jobs and said frontline health workers and service providers will be the first in line to receive the vaccine.
The initial distribution of the first 495,000 doses gives the Nairobi regional store the highest quantity of 138,000 doses, Kisumu (54,000), Nakuru (54,000), Mombasa (42,000), Kakamega (42,000), Garissa and Meru 21,000 and Nyeri (18,000). Level 6 hospitals will receive 33,000 doses and military level 4 hospitals 21,000 doses.
The vaccine will be administered in two phases for the first takers. Health care workers are expected to be the first to receive the jab as the government plans to ship in more doses.
It is being administered under emergency use authorisation meaning research on all products is still ongoing before the entire study is concluded for the vaccine to be availed to everyone, including the pregnant women.
“More work is still being done to ensure that the vaccine can be tested in pregnant women and paediatric age group. We want a vaccine that can be given to all of us and that will be the best.” Professor Omu Anzala from the University of Nairobi.
Professor Anzala said the vaccine is fairly safe apart from side effects like fever and a few people could develop reaction which will not be severe.
The vaccine, the professor said can either protect you from the infection or from getting the disease.
“If the vaccine protects you from infection it means you will not be infected at all. But if it protects you from the disease then it means you may get infected but you don’t develop the disease.” He added.
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.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, has been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and made available to the COVAX facility thanks to an advance purchase agreement between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and SII.