Vaccines to help provide second doses for health workers, teachers and other essential workers
NAIROBI, Kenya: This afternoon 410,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi. The vaccines were donated by the United Kingdom Government and transported by UNICEF. This will be followed by a further donation of 407,000 doses from the UK via the COVAX facility. The flight was met at the airport by senior Kenya Government officials led by Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi, British Deputy High Commissioner Josephine Gauld, UNICEF Chief of Health Yaron Wolman, and WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Eggers.
“The Government of Kenya is very grateful to the United Kingdom for this generous donation, which will support the further roll out of our national COVID-19 vaccination programme,” CAS Mercy Mwangangi said. “This comes at a critical time as we are rolling out the second dose of vaccination. It will ensure our health workers, teachers and other essential workers are protected, and that hospitals and health centres across Kenya will be able to continue providing essential care to people affected by COVID-19.”
“Our health partnership with Kenya is 30 years old and growing stronger by the month. We are pleased to be supporting Kenya’s vaccination roll-out with this donation of 817,000 COVID-19 vaccines to save lives in Kenya,” British Deputy High Commissioner Josephine Gauld said. “This donation is just the latest part of our incredibly strong partnership on COVID-19, and our Strategic Partnership with Kenya. From COVID-19 vaccines and genomic sequencing, to exchanges on cancer research and treatment to help Kenya treatment more cancer patients at home, the UK has a long and proud history of support for Kenya’s health sector.”
The roll out of the national vaccination campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and other partners. The Government of Kenya is currently prioritising second doses for health workers, teachers, other essential workers and people aged over 58. As well as procuring and transporting vaccines, UNICEF is supporting the distribution of the vaccines and the management of vaccines’ cold chain capacity and in collaboration with WHO, is supporting the Ministry of Health in areas of planning, technical support, capacity building, risk communication and community engagement.
“UNICEF is delighted to once again be supporting the Government of Kenya in transporting and distributing these vital COVID-19 vaccines,” UNICEF Chief of Health Dr Yaron Wolman said. “We know that vaccines save lives, keep health and other essential services running, and support economic recovery. In a global pandemic, with new and more dangerous variants emerging, no one is safe until everyone is safe. That’s why vaccine equity is essential if we are to level the playing field and ensure that everyone at risk from COVID-19 gets vaccinated, wherever they live.”
The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, urged the public to maintain public health measures while the national vaccination campaign continues to be rolled out.
“Thanks to this donation from the UK, frontline workers in Kenya who have yet to get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, have another opportunity to do so,” WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Eggers said. “I can assure health workers and the Kenyan public that these vaccines are safe and effective. With vaccination, we shall get much closer to ending this pandemic, so we urge all targeted groups to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, we also call on everyone to continue with public health measures – mask wearing, regular hand washing, social distancing – and avoiding congested spaces and gatherings.”
Lead image: 410,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United Kingdom Government and transported by UNICEF arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 1:35 pm on Saturday 31 July 2021 ©UNICEFKenya/2021/LameckOrina