NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 17 –Kenya has received the first consignment of Pfizer vaccines from the US in a campaign to accelerate the vaccination of Kenyans in the fight against coronavirus.
Speaking in Nairobi on Friday while receiving 795,000 doses of the vaccines, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said that Kenya is expected to receive a total of 1.4 million doses from the US in the coming weeks.
“This vaccine will go a long way in accelerating our vaccination campaign against the Covid -19 pandemic as we journey as we journey towards realizing our target of immunizing 60 percent of our population,” she said.
PS Mochache said that Kenya could not receive the vaccines earlier since the country lacked the necessary infrastructure for storage of the vaccines with protocols requiring storage at extremely low temperatures of -70 degrees.
“We could not acquire the Pfizer vaccines earlier because we needed to make arrangements to have the, necessary infrastructure and specifically the ultra-cold storage chain, which we have now put in place using our own resources as the government of Kenya and with support of our friends and partners the government of Japan and the US UPS Foundation,” she said.
The Health PS stated that that the new donation brings the number of vaccine types in the country to four saying Kenya has now received a total of over 6.3 million doses of assorted vaccines.
She added that the health ministry had partnered with the county governments in the last three weeks to train over 3,000 health workers who will be involved in the vaccination exercise and posted in designated vaccine centers in the country to ensure the safety of the citizens.
“Following these trainings, it has also helped us to accelerate our daily uptake of the vaccinations,” she said.
The Principal Secretary added that the Ministry of Health had made adequate preparations to ensure that the deployment plan of the vaccines takes into account the different characteristics of different types of vaccines being received.
Mochache said that the Pfizer vaccines will be transported directly from the airport straight to the nine regional stores already equipped with the ultra-chain cold storage freezers.
“From the regional store these vaccines will be transported to selected vaccination posts which have that capacity to keep them at a temperature of between 2-8 degrees which is generally common with all other vaccines,” she said.
The Health PS added that the once the Pfizer vaccine containers are opened, the vaccines must be consumed within 28 days.
She added that to avoid wastage of the vaccine the ministry had advised all the key players including counties and churches that the vaccines must be deployed in facilities that can vaccinate at least 500 people per week.
Mochache said that the ministry had put all the arrangements in place to ensure that the vaccines are handled and administered in line with the stringent guidelines.
She added that the high demand for vaccines by Kenyans means the vaccines will be consumed in a few ways.
“Because of that demand there is absolutely no concern on our part that we are going to have any losses of the Pfizer vaccine for the reason that we have an appetite and a demand of the vaccine within the citizenry,” she said.
The Health PS appealed to the health facilities to upload information of very person being vaccinated in the Chanjo portal for planning purposes and data accuracy.
She cautioned that any facility which fails to upload the information risks being delisted as a vaccination center.
Eric Kneedler, the Chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kenya, who also spoke in the event assured Kenyans that the vaccines are safe adding that they have been used to vaccinate millions of people in the US and around the world and had proven to be effective.
He added that the US will continue to support Kenya in the quest to strengthen its vaccination capacity.
“This donation is a demonstration of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to help combat covid-19 around the globe and is based on the strong partnership that the US with Kenya have built in the last nearly 60 years,” Kneedler said.
Kenya received the second batch of 880,320 COVID-19 Moderna vaccine doses from the US on September 7 bringing the total number of the Moderna vaccines donated to Kenya to 1.76 million.