NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya said Friday it is looking for an additional 11 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, on top of the 24 million already ordered, and hopes to have 16 million people vaccinated by next June.
A health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer BioNTech Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Thornton Little Theater administered by Wyre Council in Lancashire, United Kingdom on January 29, 2021. REUTERS / Molly Darlington
The additional doses are sourced from major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and sourced from the Disease Control and Prevention Agency of the African Union. The land will be supplied directly by the manufacturers if necessary, it said.
The East African nation of more than 50 million people plans to vaccinate 1.25 million people in the first phase of the campaign by June this year, senior health ministry official Mercy Mwangangi told reporters. This would cover health and nursing home workers, as well as security and immigration personnel.
The goal is to vaccinate 16 million against COVID-19 by June next year, she said at a press conference. “As more vaccines become available … that goal may change,” she said.
While wealthier nations drive mass vaccination campaigns, Africa struggles to feed its 1.3 billion people. Few nations on the continent have started giving vaccines.
On Thursday, the African Union said it had received an additional 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to immunize 60% of the continent’s population over a three-year period.
Mwangangi said the second phase of vaccination would involve 9.7 million people, including all those over 50 and those over 18 with underlying illnesses, who run between July this year and June next year.
The third phase, which is set to unfold at the same time as the second phase, is aimed at 4.9 million people, including those who live in congested areas and are considered particularly at risk, she said.
Earlier this month, Mutahi Kagwe, Kenya’s health minister, said Kenya had ordered 24 million doses of the AstraZeneca-developed COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to arrive in the second week of February.
On Friday, Mwangangi told Reuters that Kenya plans to offer the COVID-19 vaccination shots to its citizens for free.
She said Kenya would pay $ 7.70 per shot of the vaccines negotiated through the COVAX facility.
“In Kenya, especially for vaccines that are publicly funded, Kenyans will not make payments. It should be free, ”said Mwangangi. For those who choose to get the vaccine privately, there is a “minimum surcharge” applied.
Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Letter from Omar Mohammed; Editing by Mark Heinrich, William Maclean