The Kenyan Ministry of Health in conjunction with relevant stakeholders will from Friday administer the first ever COVID 19 vaccine at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), in an exercise targeting health workers due to their exposure to the pandemic.
This development comes barely hours after the Country received the first batch of the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday night with the plane carrying the one million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) shortly before midnight.
Officials at the Ministry of Health said an elaborate plan is in place for the first inoculation which will mark a major milestone in the fight against the disease that has so far infected 106,470 and killed 1,863 people.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe while receiving the vaccines at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Tuesday night, said this is the first consignment of 1.02 million doses is part of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.56 million doses.
He noted that this was a major milestone in the fight of COVID 19, adding that the vaccine will be moved to stores in Athi River for onward distribution to counties and public hospitals ahead of the actual vaccination.
“This is historic in our fight against COVID-19. We have been fighting the pandemic with rubber bullets. We have acquired today is equivalent, metaphorically speaking, to bazookas and machine guns in the fight against the pandemic,” noted the Health CS.
The CS thanked 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.
“Priority will be given to the 400,000 health workers before others in the frontline like teachers, police and others are considered ahead of the rollout for people with underlying conditions before the rest of the people are vaccinated,” said the CS.
UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said that with the arrival of these vaccines, UNICEF and partners are honouring the promise of the COVAX facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the global roll out of life-saving vaccines.
World Health Organisation Representative to Kenya Dr. Rudi Eggers said WHO was honoured to be part of this unprecedented global vaccination campaign – the largest such response in human history.
“While these vaccines are being rolled out, please let us continue the public health measures in place, such as the masks, the social distancing and avoiding congested gatherings and settings,” urged Dr. Rudi.
Kenya hopes to vaccinate about 16 million people by end of the year to suppress the virus with vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson and Johnson.
The Vaccine Alliance and SII, were procured and transported by UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and made available to the COVAX facility thanks to an advance purchase agreement between Gavi.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported 345 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours recorded from a sample size of 5,550 pushing total caseload to 106, 470 on a day that vaccines are expected to arrive in the country.