Kenya ready to deploy multiple vaccines, MoH assures

Kenya is ready to roll out multiple COVID-19 vaccination amid increasing demand from those seeking to get vaccinated against the disease.

Speaking on Wednesday during a virtual media roundtable, National Taskforce on Vaccine Deployment Chairperson Dr. Willis Akhwale said the government has already put in place requisite infrastructure to enable multiple vaccines deployment across the country.

His assurance coming as Kenya on Monday received 12 ultra-low temperature freezers of -70 degrees centigrade from JICA with a storage capacity of 3 million doses. The country is also expecting 15 portable freezers from the UPS foundation that will be used to transport the vaccines at the required temperatures.

Akhwale said the focus is now on full vaccination even as he assured those who have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine of the second dose saying everyone is assured of the second dose with the current supply outlay.

“The country has already received 1,130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from UK, France, Greece and Denmark and is expected to receive about 500,000 more doses from Canada next month, with Poland, Spain, Latvia and Netherlands having already pledged to donate more vaccines to Kenya.”Akhwale observed.

This even as he called on Kenyans to take those vaccines availed in their vaccination sites saying all vaccines will be fairly deployed across the country to ensure equity.

Speaking at the same forum, vaccine quality and supply manager at the national vaccines’ immunization program, Dr. Lucy Mecca said studies have shown that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh any risks of side effects that have been reported. She said the country is expecting 2 million doses of Pfizer vaccines, 390,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, at least 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, 2,000,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine and an additional 880,000 doses of Moderna vaccine in September.

The meeting also focused on the importance of pre-registration through the ministry’s self-service portal, to aid in collating data on vaccination as well as reducing crowding in health facilities. “It is better for people to pre-register so that we reduce the crowds we see in health facilities. We have developed a system which is secure and open to the public,” said Dr. Joseph Sitienei, the head of health sector monitoring and informatics at the Ministry of Health.

The government is targeting to increase daily vaccination rates from the current figure of about 80,000 to 150,000 by December this year. Vaccination posts will also be increased from 800 to 3,000 by December with the number rising to 7,877 by June next year. A local manufacture fill and finish plant to handle both Covid-19 and other vaccines is expected to be operational by March next year.

The ongoing vaccination is targeting only those aged 18 years and above, with the country’s adult population estimated at between 26-27 million. The government says it will only consider vaccinating those below eighteen years if the vaccines get approval from relevant authorities.

The first phase of vaccination began on 5th March 2021 with county vaccinations kicking off on 8th of March 2021. The second dose vaccination began on 28th May 2021. The roll out of the national vaccination campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and other partners.