Kenya plans to vaccinate children between 16 and 18 years of age against Covid-19 using Pfizer vaccine which has been approved for use among young adults starting next year.
The move comes as the country gears up to vaccinate at least 27 million Kenyans by 2022 on the third phase of vaccination when the ministry plans to have 7,877 vaccination centers by June next year up from the 800 points currently.
“It is important to note that Sinopharm vaccine cannot be used in persons above the age of 50 years, while all the others can be used in persons above 18 years. It is also important to note that Pfizer, which was first registered in the US, allowed use above 16 years,” Chairman National Vaccines Deployment Task Force, Dr Willis Akhwale said.
This month, Kenya received nearly 800,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the US under Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, however the distribution has not yet begun due to the complex storage condition required of negative 70 degrees Celsius.
Approximately 3.51 million Kenyans representing 3.2 per cent of the population have so far been fully vaccinated since the government rolled out the mass vaccination campaign across the country in March.
A total of 2.3 million people have received the first dose while another 876,015 have received a second dose.
The uptake of the second dose by priority groups is as follows: others 283,514, aged 58 years and above 250,226, health workers 140,358, teachers 128,129 while security officers are at 73,788.
Acting Health Director-General Dr Patrick Amoth said, “hopefully by the end of the year we shall have vaccinated 10 million Kenyans, and by the end of December next year we shall have hit a target of 27 million Kenyans.”
Pfizer had initially confirmed the vaccine is safe for children aged 5 to 11 years old, and is in the process of seeking regulatory approval.