Kenya completes its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

After some initial hesitancy amongst health workers, Kenya has successfully rolled out the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

  • 12 May 2021
  • 3 min read
  • by Mike Mwaniki
© UNICEF/UN0424372/COVAX/Lameck
© UNICEF/UN0424372/COVAX/Lameck


On 3 March 2021, Kenya received just over one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of the COVAX Facility.

Speaking in Nairobi following the first roll-out of vaccinations, the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce chairman, Dr Willis Akhwale, says that the 1.12 million doses is part of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.56 million doses.

“In Kenya, we had identified frontline health workers, teachers, police and military as the priority groups which would be targeted during round one of the inoculations. However, with time, we also included those aged 58 years and above in this priority category.”

Ms Ann Mugure, a nurse quips, “I am now happy and confident after getting the jab as I will now be able to discharge my duties without fear.”

“During the ongoing round one inoculations the programme began well among the target groups," Dr Akhwale adds. "There was no hesitancy when we kicked-off the countrywide exercise on 8 March, 2021, but due to the few sites which were in existence then we were initially able to inoculate only a few."

“However, after training additional health workers, we were able to expand the facilities offering the life-saving vaccinations.”

At the same time, demand for vaccines spiked among Kenyan citizens after President Uhuru Kenyatta led senior government officials on a public vaccination exercise on 26 March.

“After the exercise, we decide to include those aged 58 years and above as a priority group,” Dr Akhwale noted.

Alfred Obengo, President of the National Nurses Association of Kenya, says: “Initially, acceptability of inoculation among health workers was low as their leaders had not been involved in the planning [of the vaccinations]. The health workers viewed the exercise as a government-driven thing and confidence levels were very low."

Mr Obengo says that the issue was resolved after the government brought in the health workers’ leaders, bridging the communication gap. “After the meetings, we urged health workers to get the jabs as the vaccine remains the only efficient shield to combat the pandemic as of now.”

Mr Obengo was among those who were vaccinated at Nairobi’s Mbagathi district hospital accompanied by several other health workers.

“This was a clear demonstration that we all had confidence in the jab. By undertaking this move, acceptability has now gone a notch higher and we would like to sustain the status quo,” he asserts.

Ann Mugure, a nurse, quips, “I am now happy and confident after getting the jab as I will now be able to discharge my duties without fear.”

A vaccinologist and senior consultant in paediatric infectious diseases, Dr Ombeva Malande says that global data has shown a drop in the number of infections and deaths in countries where the vaccine has been adopted.

According to Dr Akhwale, 921,546 have received a COVID-19 vaccine as of 10 May. Overall, the total number of doses issued to various health facilities countrywide stood at 1,009,000 with a balance of 21,000 doses stored at the Kitengela Central Vaccines store. The vaccine doses dispensed were 921,546 AstraZeneca as well as 527 Sputnik.