The first consignment of some 1,020,000-coronavirus vaccine arrived in Kenya on Tuesday night.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines were shipped from the Serum Institute of India (SII). This is the first batch of the 4.1 million doses expected. Ultimately Kenya will import 24 million doses.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya had been fighting the Covid-19 war with rubber bullets, but with the vaccine, it now has the equivalent of machine guns.
“It’s truly a great day for Kenya. We now have the equivalent of a bazooka or a machine gun in our fight against the virus,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.
He further noted that the war was not over and that Kenya was still in the middle of a pandemic.
The CS was flanked by Transport CS James Macharia and World Health Organization representative Rudi Eggers.
The Qatar Airways plane flight QR1341 ferrying the vaccines touched down at 11.50pm.
Mr. Kagwe said healthcare workers will be the first to receive the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, which is best suited for Africa.
“Healthcare workers and other frontline workers in 47 counties will receive the vaccine in the county referral hospitals,” said Kagwe.
The vaccines will be stored in Kitengela before being distributed across the country.
This will be part of the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive which is set to start on Friday.
Kenya has recorded 106,470 coronavirus cases since March 2020 when the first case was reported in Kenya. Fatalities stand at 1,863.
The government will spend about Sh933.2 million in Phase I of the vaccination programme. A huge amount of the money (Sh592.6 million) will be used to store, distribute, clear, procure vaccines and injecting devices.
The vaccine is made from a weakened (attenuated) version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus, although it cannot cause illness.
No one given the vaccine in trials developed severe coronavirus or needed hospital treatment.
The vaccine can be stored in a normal fridge with temperatures of between two and eight degrees, making it much easier to distribute.
The vaccine has a mild side effects and is recommended in two doses (0.5ml). The WHO recommends an interval of eight to 12 weeks between the doses.
Some of the side effect that may affect more than one in 10 people
include sore arm, headache, chills, tiredness, fever, dizziness, and weakness.
The side effects last for a few days and one gets better within days.