Kenya: Teachers Among Priority Workers to Get Covid-19 Vaccines - Moh

An official from the Nairobi Health Department disinfects a street (file photo).
6 January 2021

Teachers will be among the frontline workers to receive doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that are expected in the country by the end of February.

However, learners are not in the vaccination plan because clinical vaccine trials on children have not yet been finalised.

The vaccination drive will target essential services providers, including health workers and the security forces.

The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions will be the next priority.

The announcement was made by Health Cabinet Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi on Wednesday.

She said Kenya has secured its first 24 million doses of the vaccine through Covax, a 189-country initiative that aims to secure and supply Covid-19 vaccines to vulnerable groups across the world.

She said Kenya has so far tested more than one million people for Covid-19 and has surveillance tools in place to limit community transmission of the coronavirus after schools fully reopened on Monday this week.

To ensure a faster turnaround of the test results, the ministry plans to deploy rapid diagnostic tests.

"Data shows that children remain asymptomatic. Children between five and 19 years are not at high risk of Covid-19 infection but are possible carriers of the virus and can infect adults," she said.

Kenya has more than 340,000 teachers working under the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and about 160,000 others working in private schools.

There have been fears of mass infection in schools after they fully opened on Monday after remaining closed since March last year.

When the institutions were partially reopened in October, there were some cases of teachers who contracted the virus with some deaths reported.

Cold storage systems

Dr Mwangangi said that Kenya will heavily lean on the AstraZeneca vaccine due to its adaptability to the current cold storage systems in the country.

Pfizer and Moderna have also developed Covid-19 vaccines but which require storage at extremely low temperatures.

She was speaking at a media breakfast meeting that was also addressed by Cabinet Secretaries George Magoha (Education), Faridah Karoney (Lands), Joe Mucheru (ICT), James Macharia (Transport) and TSC CEO Nancy Macharia.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and his Technical Training counterpart Julius Jwan also attended.

The TSC boss said that the teachers' medical cover includes treatment for Covid-19 and air evacuation where necessary. She said that in collaboration with MoH, TSC will offer teachers psychosocial support.

Dr Mwangangi added that MoH has enlisted 47 psychologists who have been posted to Level 4 hospitals across the country.

Dr Macharia said that teachers over 58 years and those with underlying medical conditions were free to work from home.

"I want to assure teachers that nobody is going to sack them if they are unable to go to school," she said.

Prof Magoha acknowledged that social distancing will remain a challenge in schools.

He challenged teachers to ensure proper wearing of masks and adherence to hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

To facilitate easy access to information and response to Covid-19 cases, the ministry will also rollout mobile phone app, M-Dharura.

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