Intensive COVID-19 vaccination of Kenyan athletes commences

The Government has commenced a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program for Kenyan athletes.

According to the Ministry of Sports, priority has been given to teams participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, all personnel working on the WRC/FIA Safari Rally Kenya, World Athletics Under 20 Championships, World Athletics Continental Tour and the Rugby Barthes Cup.

Others include all Sports SAGAS, specifically Sports Kenya, the Kenya Academy of Sports, Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya, Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund and all Ministry of Sports frontline staffers.

“In total, we have, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Nairobi Metropolitan Services secured 3500 vaccines for this exercise,” Sports CS Ambassador Amina Mohamed said in a statement sent to newsrooms on Thursday.

“My colleagues Hon Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary for Health and General Mohammed Badi, Director General, Nairobi Metropolitan Services have provided our sportsmen and women with an opportunity to become globally Covid-19 compliant, paving the way for our teams to safely compete in international events with the full protection of the vaccine. This indeed is the spirit of Government delivering as one,” CS Mohamed added.

Sports CS Amb Amina Mohamed. [File, Standard]

CS Mohamed pointed out the importance of the vaccination exercise ahead of major sports events in and out of the country later in the year.

The country will host various international sports events such as the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, FIA/World Rally Championship (Safari Rally Kenya), the World Athletics Continental Tour and the Rugby Barthez Cup among others.

“Increasingly sports organizers around the world are requiring that delegations possess COVID-19 Vaccination Passports over and above a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate.

“This exercise will guarantee that our athletes continue to represent the country in these crucial events, continuing with the Kenyan tradition of international sports dominance.

“I assure the country that this exercise will cover every sportsperson and support personnel wherever they may be,” she said.

Athletes will receive the jabs until Tuesday next week (13/04/2021) following a National – County Government Vaccination Collaboration Model covering Nairobi, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet.

The Government’s target is to inoculate 3,500 athletes, coaches, officials and athlete handlers.

The Sports CS further urged athletes who will receive the jab to remain vigilant and continue to operate within the COVID-19 containment measures as stipulated by President Uhuru Kenyatta and guided by the Ministry of Health Protocols.

Kenya hopes to have vaccinated over 400,000 people by the end of this week and have all vaccinated persons get their second doses starting May 5.

Kenyans who have been vaccinated have reported mild to moderate side effects, four weeks into the countrywide vaccination exercise.

The side effects range from pain at the injection site, hunger, headache, fever and mild aches, but medics are warning people against trying any treatment as it might reduce the jab’s efficacy.

Kenyans have reported using anti-inflammatory drugs and antihistamine to cope with the side effects.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said on Thursday they are monitoring the adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.