KENYA: Health insurers ordered to cover Covid-19 jab

April 2021 Businessdaily; Medical insurers in Kenya will from next month foot Covid-19 vaccination bills for policy holders ahead of July when the importation of the vaccines would be open to private firms.

The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) directed the insurers to update the policies to cover the Covid-19 jabs —raising hope for many Kenyans yet to be vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“As a risk mitigation measure, insurers are advised to provide for payments of Covid-19 vaccination for their medical insurance customers,” IRA chief executive Godfrey Kiptum said.

“The revised medical insurance policies should be submitted to the authority for approval by May 30, 2021.”

The push for Covid-19 vaccination cover by health insurers comes just a week after Health secretary Mutahi Kagwe told Parliament that the government was in talks with the WHO for vaccine imports by non-State firms, paving the way for top private hospitals to join in the second phase of the inoculation plan set for July.

Kenya is currently in the first phase of its Covid-19 vaccination drive after the delivery more than one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine doses through the global Covax initiative and a donation of 100,000 shots from the Indian government.

This first phase is scheduled to run until the end of June 2021. Kenya is offering the Covid-19 vaccine shots free of charge to its citizens having procured the shots at $7.70 (Sh845.80) each as negotiated under the Covax facility.

The head of the National Vaccines and Immunisation Programme, Dr Collins Tabu, said the country would use up all the vaccine doses in its possession as it awaits a second shipment from the UN-backed Covax facility in May.

So far about 525,000 people have received the first shot of AstraZeneca and Sputnik V jabs.

The free vaccine doses are being used to inoculate people aged 60 and older, as well as front-line workers such as doctors, nurses, teachers, hotel workers and elderly citizens.

Private hospitals are expected to join the second phase of the vaccination drive from July when private firms begin importing the shots.

The government is seeking to create an option for private hospitals to acquire the vaccines and charge a “minimum surcharge” in the race to broaden inoculation coverage.

The second phase would involve 9.7 million people — comprising people aged above 50 years and those aged above 18 years with underlying medical conditions — between July this year and next June.

The third phase, to unfold concurrently with the second, will be aimed at 4.9 million people, including those living in congested areas and seen as particularly vulnerable.

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