State targets to vaccinate 150,000 people every day
George Kebaso and Ben Kirira
Kenya yesterday embarked on an ambitious programme to vaccinate 150,000 people daily until the end of September in a revised vaccine deployment plan.
The plan is geared towards ensuring at least 10 million adults are immunised against Corona by the end of the year.
Most of the targeted population comprises persons aged 50 years and above with data showing that 70 per cent of the 4,497 deaths reported so far fall in that age bracket.
Dr Willis Akhwale-led National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Taskforce has just completed revising a plan to operationalise the vaccines, which takes into consideration the availability of multiple vaccines.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the revision of the initial vaccine deployment plan was meant to protect those who are at the greatest risk of infection.
Subsequently, the CS has directed vaccination centres to prioritise persons with underlying conditions and those aged 58 years and above for the vaccines.
“Experts have told us this group makes up 70 per cent of the country’s total fatalities from Covid-19,” he said yesterday in a speech during the arrival of 880, 460 doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines,” Kagwe said.
He added: “It is therefore disheartening to observe that despite prioritising the vaccinations of persons above 58 years, only 9.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
It is a matter of urgency that we get 2.3 million people in this category quickly vaccinated to protect their lives, the Kagwe noted.
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi and US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Eric William Kneedler were at the Jomo Kenya International Airport yesterday at dawn to receive the vaccines. Kagwe said the government has put in place elaborate mechanisms to ensure it has the capacity to deploy all the vaccines across the country including Pfizer that requires storage at -70 degrees.
While noting that the first phase of the vaccination that ended in June was hampered by global vaccines supply, the CS however, said the country has made tremendous gains reducing case fatality rates to 2 per cent from 2.1 per cent.
“Plans are underway to increase posts from the current 800 to 3,000 to help us ramp up our vaccination efforts,” he added.
With the arrival of the 880,460 doses of Moderna vaccines, city residents will begin accessing them at health.
Moderna Vaccine doses, donated by the US government, is the second jab in the country’s programme after AstraZeneca with at least 1,615,687 people having received at least one dose and 780,377 fully vaccinated by Sunday.
“The shipment is the first of the 3.5 million doses of vaccines to Kenya by the US Government, which includes today’s donation, a similar number of Moderna doses and a further 1.6 million doses of Pfizer vaccines, are scheduled to be delivered mid next month” the CS added.
US joins the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and France, which have so far donated a cumulative total of 1,130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.
Kneedler said the 880,460 doses of Moderna jab is the first shipment of 1.76 million doses donated by the US via Covax facility.
“The US government remains committed in supporting Kenya to realise her objective of vaccinating the entire adult population,” he said.
Unicef Kenya Country Representative Maniza Zaman said international solidarity remains critical during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am calling on Kenyans to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the disease,” she said.
The ministry is leading the roll out of the national vaccination campaign with support from the World Health Organisation, Unicef, Gavi and other partners.
In preparation for storage, Kenya has since received freezers from the Japanese company JAICA, with not only a capacity to accommodate 3 million vaccine doses but to store between 12°C and 70°C.