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Covid-19 vaccination exercise kicks off at KNH

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy GRAHAM KAJILWA | 1 month ago
By GRAHAM KAJILWA | 1 month ago

Dr Kennedy Koech of the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) was yesterday among the first Kenyans to get the Covid-19 vaccine injection.

Dr Koech was in the first batch of 10 KNH staff selected for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from different departments of the facility, including dental, diagnostics, intensive care unit and security.

When the Saturday Standard caught up with him an hour after the injection, the maxillofacial surgeon said he did not feel any of the listed side effects.

The expected side effects are headache, pain on the injection site, redness and fever.

“It is not a painful injection. You hardly feel it, and by the time you do it is already done,” he said. “People should not be afraid.”

Koech said he is scheduled for a second dose in two months.

For the doctor, this injection is crucial considering his line of work, which forces him to come into contact with droplets from patients, as the procedures he does include cleft lip repair.

Possible exposure

“We work in a high-risk environment where there is possible exposure since some patients do not know they are Covid-19 positive. Some of them are asymptomatic,” he said.

The vaccination, which was launched yesterday by Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache at KNH, also saw Ministry of Health Director General Dr Patrick Amoth and KNH chief executive officer Dr Evanson Kamuri inoculated.

The vaccine was stored in a mini mobile fridge until it was time for their use. The vaccine is supposed to be stored in temperatures between two and eight degrees Celsius.

Lilian Kipkoech, one of the nurses administering the jab, said there are no special syringes or needles for the injection. “We use the same as what we use in other vaccinations,” she said.

Distribution of the vaccine started on Thursday morning after the country received 1.02 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines on Tuesday night.

The jabs are part of the 4.1 million doses Kenya expects from COVAX facility programme, which ensures member countries – particularly low and middle-income nations – get a fair share of Covid-19 vaccines once they are ready.

Kenya is one of the 92 low and middle-income countries in the programme.

The launch of the Covid-19 vaccination will now pave way for the exercise to be rolled out in other referral hospitals.

Dr Richard Ayah, a member of the Covid-19 vaccine task force, said the vaccination of the 10 KNH healthcare workers will be used for training as the exercise is scaled up.

He said the vaccination will be in six stages: registration, triage, consent, monitoring, which will take between 15 and 30 minutes, discharge and acknowledgement.

“Some people might have underlying conditions, so at the triage, if your vitals are not stable – for example high temperatures – then you will not be issued with the vaccine,” he said.

Ms Mochache said the Ministry of Health together with that of ICT have developed the Chanjo Management Information System to monitor the exercise.

 

Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr Kennedy Koech is the first Kenyan to be vaccinated. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Rigorous trials

“It will enable the ministry in vaccine traceability, and ensuring our stocks are properly managed, which will assist in decision and policy making,” she said.

Dr Amoth assured healthcare workers that the vaccine is safe as it had undergone rigorous trials to certify its effectiveness and safety.

He said the only way to testify that it is safe is to “offer ourselves for vaccination today”. He got the jab together with Dr Collins Tabu, the Head of Vaccination and Immunisation Programme.

“In the last 10 years we have launched about 10 antigen vaccines so we have a degree of confidence that our healthcare workers have skills to administer the vaccine,” said Amoth.

WHO Representative for Kenya Rudi Eggers said while the vaccine has been produced in record time, the regulatory and scientific reviews have not been compromised.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India has been reviewed and found safe not only by WHO itself, but by several stringent regulatory authorities, including the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Regulatory Authority,” said Dr Eggers.

Dr Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, said while he will wait for his turn for the jab, he has confidence in it.

“If we see some light at the end of the tunnel, we are not yet close to being out of it. We must not drop our guard,” he said.

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