Why ordinary Kenyans will wait longer for Covid vaccine

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 12:21 |

Ordinary Kenyans will have to wait for at least three months before they receive the Covid-19 jab that was set to arrive in the country this morning.

Based on the tentative rollout plan by the task force committee on the Covid-19 deployment and vaccination, the earliest ordinary Kenyans could be vaccinated is July.

The government plans to vaccinate approximately one million people with the first batch of 1.02 million doses.

The second dose is scheduled to be issued after eight weeks (two months) from the second consignment that would have arrived.

On the priority list are the more than 250,000 healthcare workers who are expected to start receiving the jab on Friday at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially launch the drive.

Healthcare workers would be insulated concurrently with members of the Kenya Defence Force (KDF), in an exercise that is expected to run for at least eight weeks.

Many Kenyans had anticipated being vaccinated immediately the doses were shipped into the country. “Going by the tentative program, the earliest the first ordinary Kenyan could be vaccinated is July or thereafter.

It is a programme that has already been worked on based on the priority groups,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, the Amref Health Africa group chief executive, who is also a member of the task force.

Frontline workers It was a position collaborated by the task force chairman Dr Willis Akhwale, who disclosed to the People Daily that all frontline workers would have to be vaccinated first before they can move to other groups.

Akhwale says prioritising the vaccine is meant to ensure continuous functioning of critical sectors of the economy like the health system by protecting health employees, getting security organs intact to man border points, and institutions like schools functioning normally.

Though Akhwale declined to comment on reasons behind the decision to prioritise the military ahead of the police, sources said the former was settled on due to frequency in travels outside the country on peace missions.

After the healthcare workers and the military, next on the queue would be teachers, police, persons with existing medical conditions, and those above 50 years.

Akhwale says the second phase of the vaccine, expected to commence around June would seek to protect the most vulnerable population, or individuals with severe diseases.

“These are people with chronic conditions and those aged above 50 years. From there, the third phase would target equity and vulnerable people in the care homes, prisons, refugees and urban slums or what we call congregated areas, Akhwale explained.

“Contrary to expectations that the program would be short lived, it is a long term one that will run till 2023. So, it is not a one off event,” he stated.

Speaking to People Daily hours before the government team left for the airport to receive the first consignment, Akhwale disclosed the major challenge faced by the task force is the propaganda, lies and innuendos on the vaccine.

So engrained are the rumours that legislators want President Uhuru Kenyatta to take the vaccine first to guarantee its safety. Probabilities of mortality Medics expressed concerns over the public perception that the vaccine could be the panacea to the pandemic, and instead maintained that it is only aimed at reducing the gravity of the disease in the body as well as probabilities of mortality.

“The biggest challenge is the public awareness campaign that would be required to convince the public to accept the vaccine. There is a lot of propaganda and lies circulating around that requires it to be countered with facts,” Gitahi opined.

To effectively counter the negative propaganda, according to Gitahi, the government would be required to engage the services of independent non-partisan individuals trusted by respective local communities.

The first batch of the vaccine, 1,020,000 doses of AstraZeneca, arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, aboard an Emirates flight this morning. On hand to receive the consignment were senior government officials led by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and United Nations Children’s Education Fund (Unicef) officials.

The vaccine was shipped in by Unicef from the Indian metropolis of Mumbai, via its regional supply centre, Dubai, to Nairobi, as part of the first wave of vaccines headed to several low and middle income countries.

Received consignment The next batch is expected in the country after four or five weeks. By yesterday, the government had embarked on training health practitioners expected to administer the jabs.

At least 235 health practitioners, five from each county, underwent training at a hotel in Nairobi yesterday. This lot is expected to train their colleagues on the storage, transportation and administration of the jab.

This morning, another 94 vaccinators, two from each of the 47 Level V county referral hospitals are expected to be trained. Akhwale explained that the vaccination exercise will first be administered from government facilities before it is moved to some select private hospitals, particularly those owned by religious bodies.

“By March 15, we shall have identified at least one mission hospital in each county to administer the vaccine on behalf of the government. In the first phase of the exercise, the vaccination shall remain free,” Akhwale stated.

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