By Faith Nyasuguta
Kenya’s health ministry is set to position the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as the primary jab.
This is because the country has been struggling to get people to return for the second dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
The Ministry of Health will now not buy the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Willis Akhwale, the chair of the rollout of the vaccine task force said that J&J will be cheaper for Kenya since it involves fewer logistical requisites and that it will be easier to deploy to remote areas that are experiencing extremely low vaccination.
The head canceled out mixing of vaccines, asserting that those who get AstraZeneca as their first dose will get exactly the same jab for dose two.
The Kenyan government has already made an order for 13 million doses of the J&J. The private sector has also raised Sh1 billion ($10,000,000) for the purchase of more doses, Dr. Akhwale said.
“It has a shelf life of up to two years when frozen. We would prefer the lower facilities and hard-to-reach areas to be prioritized for J&J,” Akhwale revealed to journalists in a meeting.
Despite that, Kenya is still open to receiving donated AstraZeneca jabs from the Covid facility and from Europe, which quashed usage of the jab.
Kenya aims at fully vaccinating 10 million adults by December, and about 26 million by the end of 2022. So far, it has only vaccinated 786,340 people in a span of six months.
Dr. Joseph Sitienei, the head of health sector monitoring, evaluation, and informatics at the Ministry of Health, sought to detail how frustrating the vaccination process has been.
“There are people who disappear after the first jab. Some book on the [Chanjo] platform for the second jab and they don’t show up,” he said.
Dr. Sitienei also manages the Chanjo system, which is the Covid-19 registry at the ministry.
“We will now track those who’ve not gone for the second jab with a view to bringing them to get the second jab because one jab is not enough. Otherwise, you won’t be fully protected, which won’t give you the maximum benefits,” he said.