By: Angela Maina @MountKenyaTimes
President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced an ambitious plan to vaccinate 10 million people by December 2021 and 26 million by the end of 2022.
To achieve this, the Head of State while delivering his 16th Presidential address on the covid-19 pandemic yesterday said the government had ordered 13 million doses of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines by August this year.
“And because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is administered using a single shot, the speed of rolling out our vaccination programme will be accelerated,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Health is working on a clear National Vaccine Deployment Plan.
“Instead of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, we will vaccinate the entire adult population of 26 million Kenyans by 2022. In fact, by Christmas this year, we intend to have vaccinated over 10 million adults,” he said during a televised address to the nation from State House, Nairobi.
Kenyatta said the country will be vaccinating 150,000 people every day from August 2021 adding that this will help in the quest for ‘Herd Immunity’ against Covid-19.
The president at the same time said that if a vaccine for those under 18 years is approved by early 2022, Kenya will end up vaccinating a total of 30 million people.
“If a vaccine for under-age populations is registered by early next year, we intend to vaccinate an extra 4 million young adults by June 2022 with a vaccinated population of 30 million people,” said Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta in the same breath announced a plan to set up a Human Vaccine Centre in Kenya to elevate the country as a producer for both human and veterinary vaccines.
“Our long-term strategy is to set up a Human Vaccine Centre. I have directed a multi-agency Team to activate this plan and to focus not only on the COVID-19 Vaccine, but on any other human vaccine needed in our region,” said Kenyatta.
The president noted the national quest to produce human vaccines in Kenya will “elevate our nation as a producer of both human and veterinary vaccines that we currently supply to Eastern Africa, all the way to Morocco in North Africa.”
“It is now clear that we cannot exclusively depend on foreign partners and their systems to resolve our health crises. In that regard, we must substantially prepare ourselves before the next crisis knocks on our doors.” He said
The Head of State’s proclamation comes amid a biting global health crisis occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic. The outbreak has occasioned a huge demand for vaccines, whose supply has been limited.
Kenya, just like the majority of the African countries, is dependent on vaccines supplied by the international community through the COVAX facility. Yet, in the last few months, the supply from the vaccine producers had come to a halt, leading to an uncertain future.
President Kenyatta lauded Kenyans for exhibiting great civic responsibility 15 months since the COVID-19 pandemic struck Kenya.
“Indeed, Kenyans have taken the civic duty of protecting themselves, their families and country against this pandemic positively. Without your exercise of civic responsibility and duty, government’s swift action would have amounted to nothing. I thank you,” he said.
Kenya recorded 719 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, June 29, 2021, raising infections in the country to 183,603 and 3,621 fatalities.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the new cases were detected from a sample size of 7, 608.
The country’s positivity rate stood at 9.5 per cent by June 29.
Kenya has so far vaccinated 1, 334, 749 million Kenyans against the virus.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) had last week called on the government to expedite the process of sourcing for coronavirus vaccines.
Expressing concern over the slow progress made by the ministry in sourcing for and administering coronavirus vaccines, the union on Friday warned the COVID-19 crisis in the country could worsen if the national vaccination campaign fails to yield desired results.
KMPDU Secretary-General Davji Bhimji who addressed the press in Murang’a on Friday noted that only less than one percent of Kenyans and less than 0.3 percent of health workers have been vaccinated so far.
According to Bhimji, this is happening because the government is over-relying on charities and donations.
“There is a need for government to budget and buy vaccines for Kenyans and health worker,” he said.
COVID certificate now mandatory for entrants
President Kenyatta also directed that all entrants to Kenya must have a PCR certificate obtained no earlier than 96 hours prior to arrival.
“All persons coming into the country must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR Certificate, acquired no more than 96 hours prior to arrival into the Country; with the PCR Certificate also having been validated under the Trusted Travel platform for those travelling by air,” the president said.
He also said that counties mostly in Nyanza and Western regions, listed as COVID hotspots will continue operating under 7 pm to 4 am curfew until July 31 this year.
The counties which include; Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay and Migori have been accounting for 60 percent of the national virus caseload in the last 4 weeks, hence the decision to declare them hotspot zones.
The president further extended the night curfew in the other 34 counties that starts at 10pm to 4am for a further 60 days.
He also extended the ban on political gatherings and any other large meeting for a further 60 days as the government sets to roll out a massive vaccination drive.
The directive that funerals be held within 96 hours continues; while attendees at weddings are to be no more than 100.
The Head of State also said in-person worship will continue at a third capacity.
World Bank approves Sh14bn for Kenya Covid vaccines
The World Bank has approved $130 million (Sh14 billion) additional financing to Kenya for acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines.
World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved the funding under the Kenya Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project.
The bank in a press statement, said the additional financing will enable Kenya to procure more vaccines via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative and the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facilities.
“It will also support the deployment of those vaccines by boosting Kenya’s cold chain storage capacity,” the statement read.
Among interventions would be to establish 25 county vaccine stores, strengthening the capacity of 36 sub-county stores, and equip 1,177 health facilities with vaccine storage equipment.
Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya, according to the statement said the additional financing will help Kenya in its concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of Covid-19 infections.
Hansen said the funds will help accelerate the deployment of vaccines to the wider population.