The Covid-19 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Kenya at midnight on Tuesday, 2 March. Its arrival followed commentary from skeptical Kenyans that urged political leaders and their families to receive the jab before Kenyans.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe ushered in the 1.02 million units of vaccines at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) before they were transported to a storage facility on the outskirts of the city.
The vaccine, to be delivered in two phases-eight weeks apart- will be first issued to frontline workers who include the police, teachers and health workers. across the country. Subsequent to frontline workers will be Kenyans with underlying health conditions, vulnerable groups and hospitality workers.
However, Kenyans have expressed conflicted feelings toward the administering of vaccines and have relayed their concerns to governors who have in turn put the President on the spot.
Governors implored President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga to receive the jab publicly to eliminate fears.
“We don’t want a citizen, senator or a governor to die because he was vaccinated. All of us must be convinced in the national interest that it is the best and safe,” Nyandarua governor Francis Kimemia said.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said the President, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and other top government officials should publicly take the jab before ordinary citizens do so.
“I think after consultation, I will support a proposal we start from the top leadership from the President to be first people to be vaccinated,” Murungi said at a meeting of the leadership of the Council of Governors and the Senate’s Devolution and Intergovernmental Affairs committee.
CS Kagwe asserted that the vaccination was voluntary and advised Kenyans to avail themselves of the opportunity to get protected from the disease.
According to the vaccination plan, the first phase will target 1.25 million people, while phase two will target 9.76 million individuals above the age of 50 years and those with comorbidity. At least 4.9 million people are factored in the third phase.
Questions on the validity of prices of the vaccine have also been raised by Kenyans. The US and Brazil acquired its dose at $3.16 , Bangladesh $ 4 South Africa $5.25 and most European countries at $3.50. Kenya, purchasing hers at $7 per dose amounts to double the incurred costs by other countries.
Vaccination in public hospitals will be free, while the pricing of standard pay in private facilities is still being worked on, to prevent the exploitation of Kenyans.
Dr Akhwale, the Chair of the Covid-19 task force, warned private facilities against attempting to conduct antibody testing, saying such might result in extra charges that are discouraged.
The Covid-19 taskforce revealed that the government is considering allowing private facilities to sell the vaccines. If allowed, the facilities will operate under the keen watch of the government.
Priority will be given to regional hospitals with a total of 459,000 doses of the 1.02 million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to be distributed to level six and level four hospitals. Level six will get 33,000 doses, while the military facilities (level four) will get 21,000 doses.