Qatar Airways flight QR1341 touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday at 11:32pm ferrying the much awaited COVID-19 vaccines.
The 1.02 million doses of the Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccine were received by the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, UNICEF representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman, WHO representative to Kenya Dr. Rudi Eggers among other government officials.
This first consignment of 1.02 million doses is part of an initial allocation of 3.56 million doses to Kenya.
The Ministry of Health plans to administer the vaccines to healthcare workers and other essential workers including security personnel first, before moving on to the rest of the population.
The vaccines will be stored in a central vaccine store. They will then be moved to nine regional vaccine stores, from where the counties will collect and distribute the vaccines to local hospitals at county and sub-county level.
“This is a historic day for Kenya, marking an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.
“With the arrival of these vaccines, UNICEF and partners are honouring the promise of the COVAX facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the global roll out of life-saving vaccines. UNICEF is proud to be part of a partnership supporting the Government of Kenya in this vital work. I would also like to thank the countries that have donated to COVAX. Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the millions of Kenyan children and families affected by COVID-19,” UNICEF representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said.
Kagwe and other government officials have urged Kenyans to get the vaccine when it is made available to them and discredit the myths and misconceptions surrounding it. The health CS has also asked Kenyans to continue observing the public health measures like wearing of masks, observing physical distancing and avoiding overcrowded places even as the fight against the pandemic continues.