Kenya has this morning received 182,400 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccines that arrived at the JKIA early today were donated by the Government of France to the COVAX facility and transported by UNICEF.
Dr. Willis Akhwale, Chairman of the Covid Vaccine Deployment Taskforce and who was at the airport to receive the consignment said the vaccines comes at a critical time when the government has embarked on vaccination for the second dose.
“This will ensure our health workers, teachers and other essential workers are protected, and that our health centres countrywide can continue providing vital care to people affected by Covid-19,” he said while thanking the government of France for the generous donation.
The French Political Counsellor Emmanuel Dagron who was speaking on behalf of the French Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia Aline Kuster-Menager, said France, EU and COVAX are keen to work with the Kenyan government in its effort to tackle Covid-19.
“We hope that these 182,400 doses of vaccine will help to give access to a second dose to many at-risk Kenyans,” he said.
He added that President Macron has pledged to give 60 million doses of vaccine to countries in need around the world, including Kenya, before the end of 2021.
“By the end of June, 2.6 million doses have already been distributed. We definitely need to work together to solve this pandemic,” Dagron said.
The roll out of the national vaccination campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and other partners. Currently Kenya is prioritising second doses for health workers, teachers, other essential workers and people aged over 58.
It is also procuring while UNICEF is transporting the vaccines, managing cold chain capacity and in collaboration with WHO as well as supporting the Ministry of Health in areas of planning, technical support, capacity building, risk communication and community engagement.
UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said Vaccine equity is essential if we are to ensure that everyone at risk from Covid-19 gets vaccinated, wherever they live.
“In some high-income countries, young people are now being vaccinated, while in Africa many health workers, teachers and elderly people are still unprotected. We have to keep working to make the issue of vaccine availability and access much fairer than it is currently,” Zaman added.
UNICEF, she said is pleased to once again be supporting the Government of Kenya in procuring and transporting vital vaccines that will not only save lives, ensure recovery from the pandemic but also keep health and other essential services running.
WHO Representative to Kenya Dr. Rudi Eggers urged the public to sustain public health measures and welcomed the gesture by the French government for the Kenyan people.
“Thanks to donations like these, frontline health workers in Kenya who have yet to get their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, have another opportunity and will be protected as they treat Covid-19 patients and provide essential health services,” he said.
Eggers assured of the vaccine safety and effectiveness saying we shall get much closer to ending this pandemic with the continuance of adhering to public health measures of wearing masks, regular hand washing, social distancing and avoiding congested gatherings and settings.
By Wangari Ndirangu