On Monday, 880,460 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi.
The vaccines – which form the first of two shipments totalling 1.76 million doses – were donated by the United States Government via the COVAX facility and transported by UNICEF. This is the first time that Moderna vaccines have been received in Kenya and widens the portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines available for the national vaccination rollout.
The flight was met at the airport by senior Kenya Government officials led by Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Mercy Mwangangi and Principal Secretary (PS) Susan Mochache, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Eric Kneedler, UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman and World Health Organization (WHO) Officer in Charge, Health System Cluster Lead Dr Mona Almudhwahi.
“We are very grateful to the US Government for this generous donation of Moderna vaccines,” Ministry of Health PS Susan Mochache said.
“This will greatly support the ongoing rollout of Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign and help us reach the target announced by His Excellency President Kenyatta to vaccinate 10 million Kenyans by the end of December 2021. 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.”
“This donation builds on the United States partnership with the Government of Kenya in response to COVID-19,” said US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Eric Kneedler. “These life-saving vaccines will fill an important need at a critical time in Kenya’s fight against this pandemic.”
We are very grateful to the US Government for this generous donation of Moderna vaccines
The roll out of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health (MoH), with support from WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and other partners. As well as procuring and transporting COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF is supporting MoH in the distribution of the vaccines, procuring, deploying and managing the vaccines’ cold chain equipment.
UNICEF and WHO are also supporting MoH with planning, technical support, capacity building, risk communication and community engagement.
“This generous donation of Moderna vaccines from the US Government is a welcome boost to Kenya’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign,” UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said. “All vaccines available through COVAX are safe and effective and I would urge all Kenyans to get vaccinated as soon as advised to do so by the Ministry of Health. Once again, UNICEF is delighted to offer our full support in getting these vital COVID-19 vaccines to Kenya. We urge the international community to continue supporting Kenya to further increase the availability of vaccines. Globally, no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
The World Health Organisation has so far approved six COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, including Astra Zeneca and Moderna. The organisation has emphasised the safety of approved vaccines and urged Kenyans to maintain public health measures while the national vaccination campaign is rolled out.
“Getting vaccinated is a choice and responsibility and I can assure Kenyans that all vaccines approved by WHO are safe and effective,” WHO’s Dr Mona Almudhwahi said. “The best vaccine is the first one that is offered to you – we urge all eligible Kenyans to get vaccinated. It is also essential that we continue with public health measures such as mask wearing, regular hand washing, social distancing and avoiding congested spaces and gathering.”
The vaccines arrived through the global COVAX initiative, which is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic will not end in one country until it has ended in all countries,” said Rachel Belt, Senior Country Manager for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, speaking from Geneva. “COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings and populations and is on track to meet its goal of delivering at least 2 billion doses of vaccine to participating countries around the world in 2021, including in Kenya.”