Kenya on Monday morning received 880,460 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States government through the COVAX facility and transported by UNICEF.
The consignment is the first of two totaling about 1.76 million doses donated by the U.S that are expected to land in the country.
The shipment was received at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by Ministry of Health officials among them Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, acting Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth, as well as COVID-19 vaccine taskforce Chairman Dr. Willis Akhwale.
US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Eric Kneedler, UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman and World Health Organization (WHO) Officer in Charge, and Health System Cluster Lead Dr Mona Almudhwahi were also present.
“We are very grateful to the U.S government for this generous donation of Moderna vaccines.This will greatly support the ongoing roll-out of Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign and help us reach the target announced by President Kenyatta to vaccinate 10 million Kenyans by the end of December 2021,” said PS Mochache.
“Vaccination is now open to all Kenyans over the age of 18. I would like to emphasise that all WHO and Government of Kenya approved vaccines, including the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, are safe and effective. Members of the public will receive available vaccines at the health centre they visit, upon registration in the Chanjo System, Portal.health.go.ke.”
The PS stated that the Moderna doses now marks the second vaccine in Kenya’s program, the first being the AstraZeneca, while Pfizer is also expected to be delivered next month.
She added that the donation brings to 3.6 million doses received by Kenya so far, however adding that Kenyans will not be allowed to choose which specific vaccine they want, but that they will “get what is available.”
“We shall increase vaccination posts from 800 to 3000 in counties. We have received freezers with the capacity for 3 million doses, we will be receiving 15 freezers from American firm UPS to receive the Pfizer vaccine,” said PS Mochache.
“We will deploy 1 vaccine to a centre, we do not want to have cross mix of a vaccine. No vaccine is superior to the other when it comes to prevention of severe disease and death. Do not wait for a particular brand of the vaccine.”
She further added: “Counties like Nairobi will get the vaccine as soon as today evening or tomorrow morning. A facility will have 1 type of vaccine, except the high volume facilities like Kenyatta and Mbagathi that can have 2 types.”
The ministry also said the Moderna vaccine is administered as two intramuscular injections one month or 28 days apart.
Earlier phase 3 studies showed Moderna to be 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in people with no evidence of previous COVID-19 infection; although the efficacy rate drops to 86.4% for people ages 65 and older.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) is also embarking on studying the Moderna vaccine on its effectiveness in adults above the age of 40, people living with HIV aged above 18 and pregnant women aged above 18.