Kenya has started the process of revision and expansion of Covid-19 vaccines deployment in the wake of supply challenges affecting AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Kenya’s Covid 19 advisory task force has held a series of meetings from end of April laying out strategies for the introduction of multiple vaccines. The government is pursuing acquisition of one million doses of vaccines to supplement the AstraZeneca vaccines.
The Covid-19 vaccine advisory task force chaired by Dr. Willis Akhwale seeks to revise and expand the Covid-19 vaccine deployment plan in the wake of supply challenges affecting AstraZeneca. By end of April 2021, 822,651 Kenyans had received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. These included: 152,469 healthcare workers, 126,322 teachers and 66,677 security personnel.
India, which has been supplying the Astra Zeneca vaccine is grappling with a deadly second coronavirus wave, and has reported over 200,000 news infections daily due to the surge. The sole manufacturer of the AstraZeneca vaccines, the Serum Institute of India, has had to focus on satisfying the local demand in the country due to the devastating second wave. Accordingly, the earliest they can resume global exports is said to be June, 2021.
Accordingly, Kenya has now revised the duration between the first and second dose from the initial eight to 12 weeks. This means that those who were to get their second shot in May will have to wait until June. However, the revision of the second dosage waiting duration to 12 weeks should not be a cause of concern to those who were waiting to receive the second dosage. Kenya pushing the second dose to 12 weeks is a recommendation by WHO, which has been done by other countries as well.
The ministry has, however, ruled out the possibility of mixing vaccines despite the shortage and challenges with accessing the AZ vaccines.
Kenya plans to buy at least one million doses of the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines with the ministry disclosing that talks are at advanced stages to procure the doses later this year. The government is in constant discussion with Covax on getting the vaccines to Kenya.
The government has assured Kenyans that it is dedicated to procuring vaccines against Covid-19 and availing the same to Kenyans as soon as possible to ensure the country will resumes normalcy. It has also dedicated itself to keeping Kenyans well informed on the goings-on of vaccine programme in order to counter rumours and misinformation.