Uhuru: Kenya to vaccinate all 26m adults by next year

By George Kebaso
Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PD/PSCU

George Kebaso @Morarak

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday announced an ambitious plan to ensure the 26 million Kenyan adult population is vaccinated against coronavirus by end of next year.

This is a departure from an initial plan announced in February which targeted 10 million adults to be vaccinated by June 2022 and approximately 16 million by June 2023.

Speaking last evening, the President noted that at the heart of the ambitious plan would be the establishment of a vaccine packaging plant in the country.

“Instead of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, we will vaccinate the entire adult population of 26 million Kenyans by 2022.

In fact, by Christmas this year, we intend to have vaccinated over 10 million adults,” the President said in a televised national address.

His announcement is in tandem with projections by health experts that the country would be able to build a capacity to vaccinate 150,000 people every day from August 2021 following the expected arrival of 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Initial projections

The President announced that the government had revised its initial projections thanks to the ‘Acceleration Doctrine’, which, he noted, is about constantly increasing the speed of achieving her goals.

 “And this accelerated plan will be aided by a few swift actions and bold programmes.

For instance, we have ordered 10 million vaccines from Johnson and Johnson, with the first consignment arriving in Kenya in August 2021.

“And in the process of negotiating with this company, we managed to get a lower price.

For the price of 10 million vaccines, we have negotiated for them to deliver 13 million vaccines,” he said.

This, he said, will help the country to achieve the required herd immunity by February 2022.

He said with a vaccinated population of 30 million people, the government will achieve ‘herd immunity’ against the pandemic.“And this is our intention for the next 12 months,” he added.

He said because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered using a single shot, the speed of rolling out the vaccination programme will be accelerated.

“Using these vaccines and others in the pipeline, this is how we will vaccinate over 10 million Kenyans by Christmas 2021 and 26 million by the end of 2022.

“And if a vaccine for under-age populations is registered by early next year, we intend to vaccinate an extra four  million young adults by June 2022,” Uhuru added.

By establishing a local vaccines packaging plant, the government will be able to import the Covid-19 vaccine unpackaged and finalise the logistics of filling and packaging it locally.

“This will save us time and will make us a supply hub for Eastern and Central Africa,” he said, explaining that the government is addressing the matter through a mid-term and long-term strategy.

“For the last 15 months, our efforts of fighting this pandemic can only be described as a ‘containment seesaw’.

And I call it a ‘seesaw’ because sometimes we win on one front and experience a loss on another front,” he said.

He said the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew in the 13 Covid-19 hotspot counties in the lake region will remain from 7pm to 4am until July 31, 2021.

The counties are Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori.

The 10pm to 4am curfew will be maintained for 60 days for the rest of the country.

Uhuru said in-person worship will continue at a third capacity, while political and public gatherings have been banned for a further 60 days.

The directive that funerals be held within 96 hours with 100 mourners continues; while attendees at weddings are to be no more than 100.

All entrants to Kenya must have a PCR certificate obtained no earlier than 96 hours prior to arrival.

At the same time, the Head of State lauded Kenyans’ commitment to fighting the pandemic. He said their efforts had complemented the policy actions put in place by the government.

“The people of Kenya have exercised a very admirable degree of civic responsibility in this fight,” he said.

On the long-term strategy, the President said the plan is to set up a human vaccine centre.

“I have directed a multi-agency team to activate this plan and to focus not only on the Covid-19 vaccine, but on any other human vaccine needed in our region.

“The national quest to produce human vaccines here in Kenya will elevate our nation as a producer for both human and veterinary vaccines that we currently supply to Eastern Africa, all the way to Morocco in North Africa,” he added.

Mass education 

He said there is need for mass education on the vaccination programme, noting that some Kenyans had formed certain theories about immunisation and its effects.

“Although vaccination is free-of-charge and no one will be forced to get it, some education about it is crucial, and this will be done once the country embarks on the mass roll-out in July this year,” he added.

“And I say so because by mid-2022, we have potential to reach ‘herd immunity’ in which the dangers of one infected Kenyan will not affect a community of people unchecked,” he noted.

“But we can also build ‘herd instinct’ in our communities. If ‘herd immunity’ is meant to respond to an attack, ‘herd instinct’ is meant to anticipate the attack and stop it.

And this can only be achieved through vaccination and vaccine education,” he said.

George Kebaso