Head of vaccines deployment taskforce Dr Willis Akhwale addressing the press
By Dorcus Otieno
Kenya has resolved that only Covid-19 vaccines donations whose shelf life is at least four months at the time of delivery will be accepted.
This comes amid reports that more than 840,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have expired. It is also feared that an additional one million doses of the single shot Johnson & Johnson are likely to expire if they remain unused before April 15.
The Ministry of Health announced on March 25th that data reviewed from all the 47 counties indicated that the 840,000 doses of Astra Zeneca received through the Covax facility had expired and is to be disposed off.
“We already alerted Covax on these expiries. We are going to collect all the expired vaccines and we are going to use centres that have incineration so that they will be burnt and not be a danger to the environment,” head of vaccines deployment taskforce Dr Willis Akhwale said.
According to the CAS at the ministry Dr Mercy Mwangangi, complacency among Kenyans has seen a reduction in the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines, mostly attributed to the low positivity rate that has been recorded in the country.
Lifting of containment measures such as mandatory masking in public places by the ministry early this month has complicated the matter further, with Kenyans being accused of throwing caution to the wind with an assumption that the virus no longer exists.
As a result, data from the ministry shows that the daily vaccination rate has reduced from a high of 252,000 recorded early last month to an average of 30,000 to 40,000 daily.
The uptake of the second dose to ensure full vaccination status has also been on decline with the ministry raising concern that only 270,000 Kenyans have turned up for their booster jabs out of the nearly 900,000 that are eligible.
“The preference of certain types of vaccines as witnesses during the just ended campaigns is also worrying,” Mwangangi said.
“Some people demanded for certain types of vaccines and when they were offered AstraZeneca they declined yet we have always emphasised that all vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organization are effective in the prevention of severe diseases and need for hospitalization,” she added.
According to the ministry, vaccine hesitancy has also been brought about by rumors and misinformation with some Kenyans spreading unverified claims that the vaccines cause infertility.