Nairobi — Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Sunday denied reports that the vaccines targeting frontline workers were being abused after the government offered free COVID-19 jabs to all diplomats resident in the country, including thousands of United Nations staff.
Kagwe said Kenyans in priority categories were still being vaccinated but the decision was in keeping with Kenya’s responsibilities as home to a large diplomatic community.
“I wish to clarify that the vaccination plan remains intact and targets all persons resident in Kenya including those serving in the diplomatic corps.”
He added: “All who qualify for vaccination in the ongoing first phase are therefore encouraged to turn up for vaccination in designated vaccination in designated facilities across the country.”
The Kenya Medical Association and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union had expressed outrage over the decision as they urged the government to focus on getting the priority population vaccinated and achieving vaccine acceptancy before opening up to diplomats.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau had on Friday explained that the shots being offered had been supplied via the World Health Organization co-led COVAX vaccine access scheme.
He said the vaccination exercise would begin on March 23 and only accredited diplomats and their families were eligible.
COVAX was set up to ensure vaccines were available to high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline health workers, in countries unable to buy shots on the highly competitive international market.
Kenya has so far received just over 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine via COVAX and a 100,000 shot donation from the Indian government.
Just over 28,000 health workers, teachers and security personnel had received their first shots as of March 20, according to data by the Ministry of Health.