A clearer plan on the role counties will play in rolling out the 1.02 million Covid-19 vaccines will be outlined by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Thursday.
The 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines arrived in the country on Tuesday 11:50 pm aboard a Qatar Boeing Dreamliner plane.
The doses were received at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Kagwe, who was accompanied by Transport CS James Macharia, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, Health Acting Director General Dr Patrick Amoth, World Health Organisation Representative Dr Rudi Eggers and Unicef Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman.
Kagwe, who spoke at the airport, said the exercise will not be a Nairobi affair.
“These vaccines will not be a Nairobi affair. Starting tomorrow, we will be moving into the counties,” he said.
Apart from level six hospitals (which are under the national government), the jabs will also be distributed to level five and four facilities which are under counties.
While the jab is a literal shot in the arm in the fight against the Covid-19, Kagwe said it should not mean that Kenyans should lower their guard.
“We have been fighting the virus with rubber bullets. These vaccines are equal to acquiring bazookas, or machine guns,” he said.
He acknowledged hesitancy to take the jab – even among healthcare workers who fall under the first phase of vaccination as priority group – saying it will be voluntary.
“Those who want to be vaccinated will be vaccinated – and we hope they will be majority of people. WHO advised (us) that we need to vaccinate a third of our population to achieve herd immunity,” said Kagwe.
WHO Representative Dr Rudi Eggers also assured the public, particularly healthcare workers, of the safety of the vaccine.
“I can assure health workers and the Kenyan public that these vaccines are safe and effective. With this vaccination, we will get much closer to the end of this pandemic. However, while these vaccines are being rolled out, please let us continue observing the public health measures such as the masks, social distancing and avoiding congested gatherings and settings,” he said.
Kenya will first distribute 459,000 doses of the 1.02 million AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines where level six will get 33,000 doses, while the military facilities (level four) will get 21,000 doses.
The 459,000 will mark the first dose of the vaccine which has been found to be effective when one is issued with two doses. The two doses are to be administered at least eight weeks apart.