Kenyans to start getting second Covid vaccine dose on Friday

Willis Akhwale

Dr Willis Akhwale, chair of the Task Force on Vaccines, with Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman at a media briefing in April. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenyans will start receiving their second Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine jabs on Friday, the Health ministry has disclosed, even as it noted that it will stop administering first jabs for the time being.

The government will start the immunisation exercise by using 100,000 doses that were left over from the first batch of 1.02 million doses, along with with additional donations that were brought into the country earlier this year.

Another consignment of additional 72,000 AstraZeneca vaccine jabs will also arrive in Kenya from South Sudan after the neighbouring country returned some of its consignment to the Covax facility. Kenya's Health ministry, however, has clarified that it is not expecting any vaccines from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We are going to stop any more first vaccinations of the priority groups today to focus on the second dose administration of the jab,” Dr Willis Akhwale, Chairperson of the National Vaccine Advisory Taskforce, said on Thursday during a presser.

“We do not want any cases of jumping the queue this time round. The people who received the jab first will be notified 48 hours prior and we should all be patient and wait until it is our time to get the jab,” he added. 

Kenya also hopes to receive about 130,000 doses via the Covax facility to bolster the administration of second jabs.

J&J vaccine

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that as Kenya moves to the next phase of Covid-19 immunisations, recipients will get the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

“We will be forced to use a different vaccine from the Oxford AstraZeneca. As I had earlier said, we have already procured the Johnson and Johnson doses via the African Union and we will let you know when they arrive in the country,” the CS said.

Kenya suffered a vaccine shortage after the Serum Institute of India, the main supplier of the Covax scheme that Kenya relied on, halted exports to prioritise India following a recent explosion of coronavirus infections in the Asian country.

The manufacturer's export ban has badly affected Africa’s mass vaccination drive, and it's now expected that this could further derail efforts to vaccinate the continent which is already lagging behind other parts of the world.