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J&J vaccine to be administered in hard-to-reach areas

The government yesterday evening received a consignment of Johnson and Johnson Vaccine to fight war against the COVID 19 in the country.

The consignment of 141,600 doses is first of the 13.3 million doses directly procured by Kenya through the Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT).

In a statement yesterday read on his behalf by Heath Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi when receiving the consignment, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said priority of the Vaccine will be distributed to those regions in counties with low intake and far to access.

“Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot vaccine that is easily stored at 2 to 8 degrees centigrade during administration, and can also be frozen at minus 20 degrees to ensure months of shelf life”, he said.

This vaccine, Kagwe therefore explained will require less logistics and operational costs and is   expected to be of great utility in reaching mobile populations and primary healthcare facilities, where uptake of vaccines continues to be low.

“The single dose administration will ensure that these populations will be fully vaccinated quickly, since with their mobile nature, it is difficult to get them return for the second dose”, he added.

The Ministry of Health is therefore going to prioritize the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to counties in these regions.

The CS said that J&J will be the 3rd Covid-19 vaccine to be deployed in Kenya. The other two are AstraZeneca and Moderna Vaccines which have already arrived in the country.

He noted that the second delivery of 252,000 more doses will be next week and more doses in the coming weeks hopefully amounting to more than ONE million doses monthly.

“This will ensure we attain Kenya’s goal of vaccinating the entire adult population before the end of next year”, the CS said.

The CS said that part of the production of these vaccines received yesterday took place on the African continent at the ASPEN factory in South Africa.

He explained that Kenya through the multi-agency on Human Vaccines manufacturing committee, is in discussion with ASPEN for technical collaboration with a view to setting up the roadmap towards local manufacture of vaccines in Kenya.

AVAT was set up in November, 2020 as part of the African Union’s Covid-19 vaccine development and Access strategy, whose goal is to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the people on the African continent against covid-19.

Kenya was one of the countries that endorsed the AVAT strategy by the AU Bureau of heads of states and government.

On the overall vaccination program, the CS clarified that there is good progress and so far, the government has administered over 2.8 million doses and now 810,000 Kenyans are fully vaccinated.

“With the increase in the supply of vaccines, as we have previously reported, we are increasing the number of vaccinations posts to 3,000 by the end of December, and we shall be conducting targeted out-reaches to reach our priority groups”, the CS said.

However, Kagwe said there are two that need strengthening in the program and which calls for the participation of everyone.

“Out of the 427,000 people above 58 years of age who have received the first dose only 240, 649 which is 57 per cent have taken their second dose”, he said.

Overall, he added that only 9.3 per cent of the estimated 2.6 million persons above 58 years of age are fully vaccinated and therefore appealed to these people who are most at risk of severe diseases and death, to take advantage of the improved availability of vaccines and get vaccinated soonest.

“I also urge all people who have had their 1st dose of AstraZeneca to ensure that they get their 2nd dose when due especially now that the vaccines are available”, he said .

The CS assured Kenyans that all vaccines which we  are  being deployed are safe, equally effective and that they should get vaccinated with any vaccine that is made  available to them as soon as possible, so that they get  protected from this killer pandemic.

Kagwe thanked development partners who include Africa CDC and AVAT among others that have helped in the acquisition of the vaccines but also acknowledged the good job the health workers are doing in the county to ensure all are safe.

“To the Kenya people, let’s make the lives of our health workers less painful by curtailing the spread of this virus through strictly adhering to the containment measures we have advised and also get out to be vaccinated”, the CS said .

By Wangari Ndirangu

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