KENYA: First Covid jab to be administered tomorrow

March 2021 theStar; The first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered tomorrow, the Health ministry said on Tuesday.

Once the vaccines land at the airport, they are transported to central stores in Athi River after which they will be packed for distribution to regional centres in the 47 counties.

The government said that during this first week, vaccination will be done at just one county hospital in the counties—level 4 or 5 facilities—and all national referral hospitals.

The vaccination drive will then be cascaded to the subcounty, faith-based and private facilities.

“We have collaborations with all facilities in the country. We usually give them the regular and routine vaccinations for children and we are going to work under that framework and expect that no one will charge for the vaccine,” Health PS Susan Mochache said.

The first one million doses are expected to reach 500,000 healthcare workers, hence all those eligible for the jab in the first phase will be required to register on a web portal that has been formed specifically for the drive.

The healthcare workers will log into the portal and register, keying in basic information such as name, age, gender and medical condition.

Those who will not be able to do so will still be registered when they present themselves to the nearest facility to get the jab.

The PS said the process will be voluntary and on a first-come-first-served basis. The next consignment of at least 4.1 million doses is expected to arrive around May.

“The facilities very close to Nairobi, for example KNH, will already have received their vaccine sometime on Wednesday or very early morning on Thursday, so we expect to see vaccination starting at the facilities as soon as the vaccines get in,” Mochache said.

 “So on Thursday, we will certainly be doing the immunisation of health workers in KNH and Mama Lucy in Nairobi, but of course this is going to be gradually cascaded to other facilities.”

All people working in health facilities are targeted, including support staff, administration staff and security guards.

“We will also be interested to know which facility is closest to them so they plan to go for the vaccine. From there the information is relayed to that facility.”

On arrival at a facility for the jab, the healthcare workers will get their names already in the system. They will confirm details and go through the triage to make sure they are okay for the vaccine before they are vaccinated.

Once they are injected, they will be required to move into the waiting area for about 15 minutes after which they will be allowed to leave if they feel okay.

The government will rely on the data collected during registration to send an alert to the healthcare workers to come for the second dose, which is to be administered eight weeks later.

“We’ll also be coming out more aggressively in terms of communication and we will sensitise all the health workers, so I would like to say that health workers should not worry that we are beginning with one hospital per county.

“Come next week, the vaccine will have already gone down to the subcounties and down up to the smallest levels of facility, at least up to level 3,” Mochache said.

In the meantime, the government plans to expand the existing storage facilities. AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived in the country, does not require special storage temperatures, hence allows the government to use existing facilities.

The PS said the total cost of phase one vaccines, which comprise about 36 million doses, is Sh34 billion. But Gavi, a global health lobby, has supported Kenya with a grant of Sh20 billion, with the government expected to put in 20 per cent of the cost, which is Sh14 billion.

Mochache said part of the money will go directly to the vaccines and some of it to communications and expansion of the capacity in the counties in terms of fridges and logistical purposes.

“This is the way we approached our fight against Covid when we started. We only had four laboratories doing the tests across the country and now we have 34.

“By the end of march we will have over 70 labs. We also do not want to overwhelm the system by bringing the vaccines and having them everywhere, so we will gradually cascade,” she said.

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