Kenya has received part of the 817,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine the United Kingdom donated during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent visit to London.
The 410,000 doses, transported by Unicef, arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesterday and were received by senior Health ministry officials, led by Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi.
The UK donated the rest of the vaccines through the Covax facility as Kenya looks to boost her vaccination programme.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), Unicef and Gavi, among other partners, are helping the Health ministry’s efforts to enhance vaccination.
The government is currently prioritising second doses for health workers, teachers and other essential workers, plus people aged 58 years and above.
Also present when the vaccines arrived were British Deputy High Commissioner Josephine Gauld, Unicef Chief of Health Yaron Wolman and WHO Representative to Kenya Rudi Eggers.
“The Government of Kenya is very grateful to the United Kingdom for this generous donation, which will support further the rollout of our national Covid-19 vaccination programme,” said Dr Mwangangi.
She added: “The vaccines have arrived at a critical moment when the country is rolling out the second dose of vaccination. This will ensure health workers, teachers and other essential workers are protected and that hospitals and health centres across Kenya will be able to continue providing essential care to people affected by Covid-19.”
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Gauld said the donation is meant to strengthen further the partnership between Kenya and UK in the fight against the disease.
“From Covid-19 vaccines and genomic sequencing, to exchanges on cancer research and treatment to help Kenya treat more cancer patients at home, the UK has a long and proud history of support for Kenya’s health sector,” she said.
“Our partnership with Kenya in matters health has been in existence for the past 30 years. We are pleased to be supporting Kenya’s vaccination roll-out with this donation of 817,000 Covid-19 vaccines.”
Unicef is supporting the efforts by facilitating distribution and storage of the vaccines in collaboration with WHO, which is also offering planning and technical support. The WHO is also helping in capacity building and community engagement among others.
“We know vaccines save lives, keep health and other essential services running and support economic recovery. In a global pandemic, with new and more dangerous variants emerging, no one is safe until everyone is safe,” said Dr Wolman.
Kenya had by Thursday administered a total of 1,712,550 vaccines. Of these, at least 1,058,280 people have received the first dose. Another 654,270 have got second doses.
Those aged 58 years and above who have received the second dose are 202,820. Others are health workers (114,592), teachers (94,766) and security officers (52,185).
Of those who have received the second dose, more than half, (55 per cent), are male.