KENYA – The government of Kenya will need to expedite the deployment of 358,700 doses of the Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine donated by Denmark, which are to expire on July 31.
The jabs arrived in Kenya on Monday night and were taken to the national vaccines store in Athi River for distribution.
Head of vaccines deployment task force, Willis Akhwale, said despite the short expiry period, Kenya has one of the most efficient rollout plans.
“So with these ones, and the capacity to even vaccinate 50,000 people per day, we believe in two to three weeks we will have used this particular consignment,” Dr Akhwale said.
The consignment is a major boost to the administration of the second dose, as there were only 5,000 doses left in stock.
Healthcare workers and other essential service providers will be allowed to jump the queue.
Medical practitioners have already complained about missing their second jab despite being alerted to get it in various facilities.
The Health ministry said only those to get the second jab will get vaccinated. The rest of the people who have yet to get a single shot were asked to wait for the government to procure Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
“We are hopeful that in the next coming week we will be receiving additional vaccines from the Covax facility; around 180,000 will be coming in to add on to what we have already received,” Health principal secretary Susan Mochache said.
By Monday, 192,093 people had received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. From these, 52,830 are healthcare workers, 52,041 are people aged 58 years and above, 22,189 teachers and 14,020 security officers.
A total of 995,570 people had been reached with the first dose, and some 1,187,663 have been vaccinated.
“Kenya is in a difficult situation as they have received fewer vaccines than expected, and it is my hope that the vaccines from Denmark can help fill the gap until more arrive,” Danish Ambassador Ole Thonke said.
The rollout of the national vaccination campaign is being led by the Health ministry with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative, WHO, Unicef and other partners.
Unicef is providing support to the Ministry of Health in the areas of planning, cold chain capacity, risk communication and community engagement, as well as procurement and transporting of vaccines.
“These vital Covid-19 vaccines will undoubtedly save lives, help keep health and other essential services running safely and support the recovery from the consequences of the pandemic,” Unicef representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said.
Zaman reiterated the need for vaccine equity as 68 people in 100 in high-income countries have been vaccinated, but only two people in 100 in Africa.