Ministry of Health is requesting Ksh 1.4 billion from the National Treasury to expand vaccine storage facilities in the country and buy freezers that can store the jabs at -70°C.
Head of the Covid-19 vaccine deployment task force Willis Akhwale noted that the currently available facilities can only achieve -20 degrees Celsius and can only store 20 million vials.
Speaking during a virtual meeting organized by the Kenya Medical Association, Dr. Akhwale said the available facilities with the capacity to maintain the temperature below -70 degrees Celsius are available in Kemri and a few other facilities but they are already keeping other biologicals.
He said the ministry was cautious not to contaminate vaccines with those biologicals.
Akhwale further revealed that even though Kenya had already ordered the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab, it may still go for the Pfizer vaccine once it becomes available and enough storage is available.
According to WHO’s Vaccine Introduction Readiness Assessment Tool, Kenya is still below average in its readiness for the vaccine recording 33 percent preparedness for Covid-19 vaccine roll-out against a recommended rate of 80 percent.
Akhwale said the deployment plan will cost the country ksh30 billion, to cover 30 percent of the population between March 2021 to June 2023.
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Akhwale had previously said the Ministry of Health had orders 24 million doses of the jab from AstraZeneca and expected them to start arriving in the second week of February.
He noted that the first batch of vaccines will benefit high-risk population groups including health workers, police, teachers, the elderly, and the terminally ill.
He revealed that about 20 percent of the country’s population will be inoculated when the first batch arrives.
He also said nine vaccine storage facilities countrywide had been reactivated to handle logistics of mass inoculation against the coronavirus that will be done in phases.