What you need to know:
- Our country is rightly among the first in Africa to roll out the vaccination programme
- Some 1.25 million citizens will be given the jab in phase one of the campaign envisaged to end by June.
Kenya is set to receive its first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine tonight. Frontline workers — including medical care staff, teachers, security personnel, hospitality sector staff and some selected vulnerable groups such as the elderly — are top in the inoculation scale of preference.
Our country is rightly among the first in Africa to roll out the vaccination programme. Some 1.25 million citizens will be given the jab in phase one of the campaign envisaged to end by June.
This is good news to a country ravaged by the unprecedented pandemic. Amid growing fears of the soaring of the unrelenting curve due to a third wave, the necessity of such a plan cannot be overemphasised. The Ministry of Health has recorded almost 2,000 fatalities and slightly more than100,000 cases as the invisible enemy takes a toll on lives, livelihoods and the economy.
The government ought to exercise utmost respect for humanity and offer the jabs for free to all. Vaccines should always be prioritised as global public goods rather than market commodities affected by the interplay of the forces of demand and supply, which can lead to bias towards the haves and the have-nots.
The UN states that all are entitled to an equal footing to enjoy access to all available application of scientific progress necessary to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health.
From Pfizer BioNTech to Moderna and Astrazenaca, vaccines by different pharmaceutical giants have significantly high levels of efficacy, and are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). While the cloud of dismay brought about by the coronavirus had left the world in oblivion, news of a vaccine gave a silver lining and that advantage should be managed well.
Despite the milestone in war against Covid-19, we risk rolling back the gains should governments allow unfair distribution or hoarding of vaccines. We must embrace international cooperation in the access to science, technology and innovation. Priority should be given to the frontline ‘soldiers’ but transparently and in respect to human rights and the overall welfare of the country.
We need concerted efforts at both the national and international levels to maximise universal access to vaccines. We must speak out against any attempt at discriminating against anyone on the basis of nationality, race, gender, ethnicity or residence. Apply evidence-based assessment of need in the vaccination.
Kenya must come up with a robust well-choreographed plan to fas-track the immunisation and let all willing Kenyans get a chance to receive the shot. This should be done in a fair and transparent way, free of bias and influence from corruption cartels and political prejudices.
Even as the vaccination begins, Kenyans should still be wary of the enemy who is still alive with us and not drop the guard.
Timothy Mwirichia, Meru