Kenya set to begin second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise


A woman receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ...
A woman receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi [File: Monicah Mwangi/Reuters]

Kenya is set to begin the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise on Friday, but this dose is less than what had originally been expected.

While the country is yet to receive a shipment of 72,000 doses that the COVAX facility has approved, the Ministry of Health cites that those who received their first dose in March, a majority of whom were health care workers, will be given priority as the country seeks to progressively acquire other doses.

Friday, May 28, is the day the Ministry of Health has planned to launch the COVID-19 vaccination exercise that will see frontline workers get their second jab of the Astrazeneca vaccine.

The ministry hopes that by then, the 130,000 doses they had agreed upon through the COVAX facility will have arrived in the country.

Sources however indicate that only 72,000 doses have been approved through the Gavi-COVAX facility, doses that were donated by South Sudan.

That coupled up with at least 100,000 doses that Kenya remains with from 1.12 million initial doses, just 172,000 doses will be available.

The doses will serve the frontline workers who got their jab in March and who will have completed their 12-week gap.

For the rest who received their jab in the months of April and May, the ministry says it is seeking to progressively bridge that gap with the assistance of the COVAX facility as well as manufacturers.

But the matter is still grey on when and where the rest of the doses will come from with at least 800,000 people on queue to receive their second jab.

It is a situation that Tedros Adhanom, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), describes as a very dangerous situation, almost 18 months into the defining health crisis of our age.

He states that given that 2021 has so far recorded more cases than the whole of 2020, the crisis that is vaccine inequity should be taken seriously.

“The ongoing vaccine crisis is a scandalous inequity that is perpetuating the pandemic. More than 75 per cent of all vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world,” said Adhanom.

An issue that Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s statement at the World Health Assembly clearly pointed out, stating: “Appreciating the fact that none is safe until we are safe must mean that to vaccinate generally safe 13-year-olds in one country while denying high-risk adults access to the vaccine in another country is a damning contradiction of this principle. There have been clear demonstrations of vaccine nationalism or vaccine apartheid.”

According to Adhanom, “The number of doses administered globally so far would have been enough to cover all health workers and older people if they had been distributed equitably. We could have been in a much better situation.”

Out of the 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Kenya had hoped to acquire in August, sources say that only 10 million doses will be issued.

Kenya has so far vaccinated 957,804 people according to government statistics.

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