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Gov’t to resume intense COVID-19 vaccination

The Government has directed all vaccination posts across the Country to immediately resume the administration of the first dose of AstraZeneca and not just second doses as has been the case the last few weeks.

Health Ministry is to work with County Governments and ensure all the 658 vaccination posts are supplied with vaccines during the month of August and more posts be enlisted to offer the services with a target of 3,000 posts by the end of the year.

Giving the directive, yesterday, when receiving an ambulance donated by the European Union (EU) for Turkana County at Afya House, Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe, said the Ministry will also work with County Governments to conduct outreach services aimed at increasing demand for vaccine services among priority population and hard to reach areas.

The CS noted that by Christmas this year over 10 million people have to have been vaccinated as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and also the entire adult population of around 26 million by the end of next year.

“In order to achieve these targets and now with an improved supply chain all vaccinations posts under the National Government will be open during the weekends,” he said, and urged County Governments to ensure that posts within their jurisdiction also remain open.

He said that starting next week, the Government shall be receiving a good number of vaccine doses that will boost the campaign.

CS named donations from the US Government where the Government expects to receive 1,760,000 doses of Pfizer. From the UK government 410,000 doses of AstraZeneca. From Greece 235,000 doses of AstraZeneca and from Latvia- 55,000 doses of AstraZeneca.

Through Covax Mechanism, the CS said that there has been an improvement in their acquisition of vaccines and that they have allocated Kenya 407,040 doses of AstraZeneca and 271,440 doses of Pfizer.

The Government he added through the AVAT-AU mechanism has procured 13 million doses of Johnson and Johnson and that the delivery of these vaccines will start next month in August 2021.

“In preparation for the deployment of Pfizer vaccines which require storage at minus 70 degrees Celsius, Kenya will be receiving 15 Ultra Cold Chain freezers from the UPS Foundation of the US within the next two weeks valued at 150,000 US dollars. These freezers will be distributed to the Central Vaccine Store in Kitengela and all the 9 regional vaccine stores across the Country”, he explained.

Kagwe noted that with these freezers, the shelf-life of the vaccines can be guaranteed for 6 months since UPS will manage the transport from the central store in Kitengela to the regional stores using special insulated devices from Pfizer known as soft boxes – which maintain ultra-cold chain temperatures using dry ice.

From the regional stores, he explained that the vaccines will be transported to selected vaccination posts at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees centigrade as is common with other vaccines.

“The Ministry of Health has put in place mechanisms to ensure that there are no wastages of these vaccines and health workers are being trained on vaccine management,” he added

He ordered a scale-up of the vaccination campaign that must include radio and community sensitization meetings and added that in order to enhance efficiency at vaccination posts, persons taking the vaccine should ensure that they pre-register in advance for the vaccination date and this will be done through the self-registration of the Chanjo-KE system and through assisted registration at nearby facilities.

In order to quickly reverse the negative impact the pandemic has on the economy, Kagwe said there is need to achieve herd immunity and the best route to achieving this remains the increased vaccination of a majority of the citizenry.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is now a key intervention in government’s efforts to contain the burden of the pandemic, he said, noting that despite the global supply constraints of COVID-19 vaccines, the government has so far been able to administer 1,692,793 doses out of the 1,733,100 doses of AstraZeneca that has been received to date.

“Since the administration of the 2nd dose two months ago in May 28th, 640,450 people have received their second dose with the uptake of the second dose among those who received the first dose now standing at 60.9 per cent.

The Focus, the CS noted has now shifted to ensuring that all Kenyans get fully vaccinated so that they are fully protected considering that vaccinations are a service delivery activity and take place within Counties

The Government, he said, is playing a bigger role in ensuring that the targeted adult population gets fully vaccinated and that so far the best performing Counties in terms of full coverage of adult population are Nairobi at 7.1 per cent, Nyeri 5.4 per cent, Uasin Gishu 4.1 per cent, Laikipia 3.6 per cent and Nakuru 3.3 per cent.

“I encourage all counties to step up their vaccination efforts and especially when we receive additional doses”, Kagwe said, acknowledging that the constraints in the supply of vaccines has been the biggest hindrance.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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