President Uhuru Kenyatta has encouraged Kenyans to take the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid safety concerns from some European countries.
A number of countries in the European Union (EU) including Denmark and Norway recently suspended the use of the jab following reports that a small number of people had developed clots after receiving the vaccine.
But in his state of the nation address on Friday, President Kenyatta allayed the fears saying it was safe for use.
“This vaccine has been tested and our medical experts are persuaded that its safety profile is bankable,” said the head of state.
“The vaccine roll out will be done in phases as guided by the National Deployment Vaccination Plan (NDVP); with the first phase targeting front line health workers, uniformed personnel, and teachers. The second phase will target the elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions. And, I must make it clear; the vaccination is voluntary.”
At least 4,000 Kenyans have so far received the Covid-19 vaccine.
The President’s remarks come a day after the EU’s medicine regulator said there is no indication that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is linked to an increased risk of blood clots, even as the vaccine remains suspended in the above-mentioned countries.
“The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.
Kenya received its first batch of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine from India on Wednesday, March 3.
The 1.02 million doses were transported by UNICEF as part of the COVAX facility, which aims to provide equitable access to vaccines for all countries around the world, regardless of their income level.
The second batch of 100,000 doses arrived in the country yesterday.