Kenya will receive the first consignment of Covid 19 vaccines next month.
Teachers, the elderly, health workers and police will be the first to receive the Oxford University Astra-Zeneca jab.
The Ministry of Health says people with underlying health conditions, and those in frequent contact with large groups of people will also be ahead of the queue.
The priority targeting will reach 5.2 million elderly people and an estimated 1.4 million with underlying medical conditions.
In total, an estimated 20 percent of Kenya’s population will be covered in the first round of vaccinations.
“The rationale for priority target populations is aligned with WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations and roadmap for prioritizing uses of Covid-19 vaccines in the context of limited supply.
It has been adapted through consideration of local COVID data.”-Dr Mercy Mwangangi, CAS, Ministry of Health.
Kenya has ordered 24 million doses of the Oxford University Astra-Zeneca vaccine. According to Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary, Health, the vaccine is relatively easier to store and transport, as compared with other approved vaccines, notably one by US firm Pfizer.
“The Oxford University Astra-Zeneca vaccine can be stored in an ordinary fridge unlike the Pfizer one, which has to be kept in extremely cold temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius,” Kagwe is quoted by a local newspaper as saying.
He says that the Ministry and Kenya Medical Research Institute are currently carrying out tests on the vaccine roll-out.
While it is not clear whether the Kenyan public will be charged for the vaccine, what is clear is that the government procured it at no cost.
Says Dr Patrick Amoth, Health Director, “The first 24 million doses, which will be for free are from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) .”
Since 2001, Kenya has received approximately Ksh25billion worth of vaccines and injection devices, and Ksh4bn in cash from GAVI.
For the global pandemic, vaccines are being distributed by the WHO through a programme called COVAX. It is targeting people in poor and middle-income countries such as Kenya.
“We have set aside Ksh10billion to cover an additional 10 percent of the population,” says Dr Amoth.
A team of health workers (at hospitals and community) is currently undergoing training to assist in the vaccination exercise.
Earlier this month, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the National Emergency Response Committee to expand its mandate to include dispensation of the Covid-19 vaccines.
The country’s Covid case load is 92,853.