NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18 – Pfizer vaccines donated by the US on Friday were deployed straight away to 9 regional centers due to stringent storage requirements.
Speaking in Nairobi while receiving the vaccines, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said the vaccines will only be availed to accredited facilities capable of exhausting 500 doses a week.
Mochache said the nine regional stores were 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, they cannot be refrozen or restored adding that vaccines must be consumed within 28 days.
She added that in a bid to ensure the safety of the vaccines, the health ministry had partnered with the county governments to train over 3,000 health workers who will be involved in the vaccination exercise and posted in designated vaccine centers in the country.
“Following these trainings, it has also helped us to accelerate our daily uptake of the vaccinations,” 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 only survive 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.
She added that the vaccines will boost Kenya’s efforts to step up the vaccination of its citizens.
“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.
Mochache stated that that the new donation brings the number of vaccine types in the country to four saying Kenya had since received a total of over 6.3 million doses of assorted vaccines.
On September 13, Kenya received another 210,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Poland to boost the nationwide vaccination drive targeting 10 million people by December.
The vaccines were received at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by the head of the Kenya COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Taskforce Dr. Willis Akhwale.
“With this availability of vaccine doses, we are now able to vaccinate many more people. And therefore, this is the time for Kenyans to really present themselves to vaccination posts to receive the jab,” Akhwale said
Kenya has deployed AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccines and now the Pfizer vaccines in efforts to combat COVID-19. The country is also expecting the Sinopharm vaccine from China.