BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,23RD MARCH,2022-At least 840, 000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have expired, the Ministry of Health has announced.
The Ministry has also noted the highest number of expired vaccines come from the following counties: Nakuru with 35,790, followed by Busia with 27,980, Kajiado 25,770, Kakamega 12,870 and Kwale 11,730.
According to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, in January this year, Kenya had 2.2 million doses of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine donated through the Covax facility.
The doses had an expiry date of 28th February 2022 and had been distributed to the 9 regional vaccine stores for utilization by Counties.
Through his daily Covid-19 status briefing, Kagwe further elaborated that MoH conducted two campaigns in January and February this year with an aim of ensuring the utilization of these doses before their expiry.
The Ministry unfortunately later received information to the effect that despite the hugely successful campaign that saw the daily vaccination rate rise to over 200,000 doses in a day, and more than 3 million vaccine doses administered over a two-week period, the country wasn’t able to utilize all of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses available before their expiry.
The Health CS attributed the low intake of the vaccine to complacency by Kenyans in taking up the jab following a reduction in the positivity rate and the number of COVID-19 admissions.
“The daily vaccination rate has reduced from a high of 252,000 recorded early last month to an average of 30,000-40,000 daily. The uptake of the 2nd dose to ensure full vaccination status is declining while out of nearly 900,000 Kenyans eligible for a booster dose only 270,000 have turned up and received their shots,” he noted.
A worried Kagwe also said that preference for certain types of vaccines as witnessed during the just ended campaigns was also a cause of the expiry.
“The MoH continues to witness vaccine hesitancy attributed to rumours and misinformation, especially around fertility concerns,” he said adding that these rumours do not have any scientific evidence and are therefore baseless and must be ignored.
Going forward Kagwe stated that the Ministry shall be instituting measures to minimize future potential expiries.
Some of the measures include Kenya accepting donation of vaccines whose shelf-life is at least 4 months at the time of delivery, working with counties and partners to scale up communication towards demand generation and continuous community mobilization and ensuring counties continue prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination and implementing measures that ensure utilization of all doses within their jurisdiction.
So far Kenya has managed to administer 17. 3 million doses out of which 7.9 million are those who have received their first dose while another 7.9 million are now fully vaccinated.
Another 1 million doses have been administered to those between 15 to 17 years and 270,998 have been administered as booster doses.