Kenya reported the first case of COVID-19 in March 2020. Twelve months later, in March 2021, the Ministry of Health (MoH) received 1.02 million doses of the Astra Zeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine and launched the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. According to MoH, more than 11.6 million vaccine doses had been administered as of January 25, 2021.
There are various vaccines available for use in the country such as the Pfizer vaccine, the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Moderna vaccine, Oxford, AstraZeneca vaccine and Sinopharm.
Here are some questions about the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and how it is being rolled out.
- How does the vaccine work?
Each vaccine in development or which has been produced works differently, but with the same goal-to produce an immune response in your body that will fight off the virus and prevent you from becoming unwell or from experiencing a severe illness. Some vaccinations will require one or two doses depending on the manufacturer’s instructions based on how it works to produce an immune response.
- Who can get vaccinated now?
The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Kenya began in March 2021. At the time, the ministry of health prioritized health workers, teachers, security personnel, and people over the age of 58. Over time, eligibility expanded to all adults starting in June 2021. Those fully vaccinated are issued with COVID-19 vaccination certificates. If you are fully vaccinated, you can follow this guide to obtain your COVID-19 vaccination certificate.
3. What are the side effects of getting a Covid-19 vaccine?
After receiving a dose of the vaccine, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are.
- Pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot.
- The rest of your body might experience fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.
These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
- Can I be vaccinated if I am pregnant?
Yes. You can still choose to be vaccinated even when you are pregnant. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination can cause any problem with pregnancy, including the development of the unborn baby.
- Does the vaccine cure the Covid-19 disease?
The vaccine is not the treatment for COVID-19 disease, but it is the way to prevent it. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
- How many injections of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine should I receive?
You will need two shots (injections) to get the most protection. The timing between your first and second shot is eight weeks.
- Can I still get the virus between the first and second shot of AstraZeneca?
Because the vaccine takes a few weeks to start working and requires two doses, it’s still possible to catch Covid-19 while you’re waiting for your second shot. If you develop Covid-19 after the first dose, you should still plan on getting the second dose on schedule but check with the doctor first. And remember, even after two doses, no vaccine offers 100 percent protection. But even if you do catch the virus after vaccination, it is likely that you will experience mild illness because your body, has antibodies ready to fight off the virus.
- Why are children not being vaccinated?
Children aren’t prioritized for vaccination because they are much less affected by COVID-19 infection than adults.
- Do I stop wearing masks and interact freely without observing social distance once I have been vaccinated?
No. Continue with the recommended measures to prevent the spread of the virus even after receiving the two doses of the vaccine. Also, it is not yet known whether you can infect others with the virus even after being vaccinated.
- Do I need the vaccine if I have already recovered from the Covid-19 disease?
Yes. You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. There have been numerous cases of persons who have been reinfected with the virus even after recovering in the first instance. It is much safer to be vaccinated.
- Will I be eligible for the vaccine if I have underlying medical conditions?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, or cancer) you are at risk to develop serious illness more often than others. With the current vaccination ongoing in Kenya, you will be summoned to be vaccinated as soon as the first phase will be over.
- Can I get the vaccine if I am living with HIV?
The vaccine was tested on a small number of persons living with HIV. Although the numbers are too small to draw meaningful conclusions, no unusual safety concerns were reported for people with HIV. Because vaccines do not contain the weakened or inactivated virus, they are believed to be a safe option for people with HIV and AIDS. However, if you are HIV-positive it's best to speak to your doctor about it. People with compromised immune systems may not produce a robust immune response to the vaccine and should continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves against Covid-19.
- Can I be vaccinated against Covid-19 while infected with the virus?
No. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, you are strictly advised to wait until you have fully recovered from the illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation. This also applies to persons without symptoms but have been confirmed as active Covid-19 cases. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of the vaccine.
- Where should I go to be vaccinated?
Find here a comprehensive list of MOH-approved COVID-19 vaccination posts in Kenya. Below are the vaccination posts in Kakuma, Dadaab and Nairobi. You can get the vaccines at all the health facilities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei on the specific days below:
- Ammusaait Hospital- Monday and Tuesdays
- Nationakor/ Clinic 6- Wednesdays
- Nalemsekon / Clinic 5- Wednesdays
In Dadaab, vaccines are available at the Hagadera Refugee Camp Hospital, Ifo Hospital and at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Dagahaley. Listed below are health facilities offering COVID-19 vaccines in Nairobi.
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