Kenyans to receive COVID-19 vaccine free of charge during phase 1
The long-awaited arrival of Kenya’s first consignment of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine has now set the wheel in motion for the planned rollout.
Kenyans can expect the administration of the jab to begin on Friday, after the vaccines are distributed from the central vaccine storage site in Kitengela on Thursday.
Those being vaccinated in this first phase will not pay a single cent for the jab.
“The vaccines are currently at the Kitengela store. They are packaged in a special way. The packaging material will be reopened and the vaccines will be repackaged according to the vaccines that have to go to every regional store,” explains Dr. Willis Akhwale, Chair of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment and Vaccination Taskforce
The quantity for each county is determined by the number of frontline workers. 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 week beginning the March 8, will be the official first week of vaccination for Kenya.
“We are starting with 1 public hospital for each county. During that time the counties will identify another hospital from the private sector for the vaccination. Healthcare workers from that facility will be trained and taught on what to do,” adds Dr. Akhwale.
Unlike other countries where heads of state have received the vaccines first, Kenya is giving priority to health workers.
“We are giving priority to those who are at high risk, those in ICU, those who work in Covid-wards, those who ferry bodies… We want them protected first before anybody else.” So where were these politicians queuing. We have not even told people when to form the queue. The queue is for healthcare workers,” stated the taskforce Chair.
The first two weeks will not require pre- registration. The government is working on rolling out a system both a portal and an app where eligible people can now pre-register using even their mobile phones and get to select the date and the facilities.
Doctors, nurses and clinical officers will administer the vaccine, after being trained on how to handle each vial.
“One vial can vaccinate up to 10 people. Once you open the vial, it has to be used,” he stated.
The big question is if the vaccine will cost the person being vaccinated.
“The vaccine will be given at no cost at all in public health facilities. We are not going to charge the health care workers. Not a penny,” said Dr. Akhwale.
And on the question of the cost of each dose and why is Kenya is purchasing a dose at 7 dollars each (approx. 700 Kenya shillings) Dr. Akhwale explains that the amount factored in both the factory price and transportation cost.
Kenya’s vaccines were purchased from the Serum Institute of India.
“This procurement was done by UNICEF on behalf of GAVI through the Covax facility. In January, the cost estimates were between 6 and 8 dollars. We used an average of 7 dollars. The 7 dollars is a planning cost of procurement and transportation and delivery up to the airport. 7 is a planning cost and cost savings have been made,” he noted.
Dr. Willis Akhwale, chair of the vaccine taskforce, further explains that countries in Europe have their own factories and airlines, meaning they do not incur factory or airline costs. For instance, South Africa switched to Johnson and Johnson produced by their own Aspen factory.
“What Kenyans don’t know is that if we missed out in this first phase of circulation, we would have to wait till may to get the vaccine. The vaccine will not be a silver bullet but it will minimize on hospitals and deaths. There was a time you could not find an ICU, think of the cost we are saving,” he explained.
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