VACCINE

Counties to get vaccine by Friday as state targets 400k health workers

First batch of 1.025 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at 11.23 pm.

In Summary

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the vaccination process will start with health care workers, followed by other front-line workers like police and teachers.

He said though the doses will be taken to the Kitengela storage facility, they will later be transported to other facilities across the country by Friday.

The Covax vaccine
The Covax vaccine
Image: UNICEF

The government has maintained health workers will be the top priority when the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the vaccination process will start with health care workers, followed by other front-line workers like police and teachers.

"The country has 400,000 health care workers and they shall be the first ones to be vaccinated. We need a priority list because we cannot vaccinate everybody at the same time," he said.

Kagwe said once frontline workers are done with, those with comorbidity will be considered before the vaccination process is finally rolled out to the general population.

Kagwe spoke at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where he received the first batch of 1.025 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines were transported by UNICEF as part of the COVAX facility, which aims to provide equitable access to vaccines for all countries around the world.

The vaccines arrived at 11.23 pm on Qatar Airways flight QR1341.

The CS dismissed claims that the vaccination process will be mandatory.

"This is purely a voluntary process and not mandatory as alleged. There are those who would wish not to be vaccinated but we hope it will be a majority of them willing to be vaccinated," he said.

He said though the doses will be taken to the Kitengela storage facility, they will later be transported to other facilities across the country by Friday.

"It is not going to be a Nairobi affair, the vaccines will be distributed across all the counties where it will be rolled out to regional hospitals and down to level 3 and level 2 hospitals," he said.

"This is an exciting moment for our nation, we have been fighting the pandemic with  with rubber bullets but what we have received is an equivalent to machine guns and tanks," Kagwe added.

He said the doses are going to play a key role to the country's recovery from the disease.

"This achievement is as a result of hard work with partners. The war is not over because we are still in the middle of a pandemic. This is however a game changer for the war against covid-19," he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Transport CS James Macharia who said the achievement is about saving lives as much.

Macharia said his docket will continue to support the process in terms of transport logistics.

He said there have been many questions on what role Kenya Airways has played in bringing the vaccines.

Macharia said KQ had converted some of its passenger planes to freighters but unfortunately, they had not been certified by WHO to transport the doses.

"However there should be no panic because we are in the last stages of certification and we gonna bring in the vaccines in the future," he said.