NVP: 307 complaints from Astra Zeneca vaccine, zero deaths so far

Kenya has recorded 307 cases of adverse reactions to the Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine, a top Ministry of Health official has confirmed.

Branded and sold as Covishield, the Astra Zeneca vaccine currently being administered in Kenya is manufactured under license at the Serum Institute in India.

Speaking in Nairobi on April 11, 2021 the National Vaccination Programme head Dr Collins Tabu said the Covid-19 vaccination program had not recorded any deaths so far.

“So far we have received 307 cases of adverse reactions to the Astra Zeneca vaccine, but no deaths have been reported,” he said.

“Most of the cases were to do with the symptoms expected after the vaccination, like headache, fever, mild joint pains and slight running stomach,” added the medic.  

Speaking on the reports of blood clots and deaths across Europe and United States, Dr Tabu said the vaccines may not have been the cause of blood clot cases and deaths.

“The deaths being reported may not necessarily be associated with the vaccine. Many factors can come into play when blood clots or deaths are concerned,” said Dr Tabu.

He explained that vaccination is not a guarantee that a patient will not be susceptible to other illnesses and that complications or even death resulting from the others could still occur.

“A patient could have been suffering from an underlying condition at the time of vaccination, and the death will then not be said to have been caused by the vaccine,” he said.

Dr Tabu also says that people would normally experience some slight side effects after getting injected with the vaccine.

“In the process of getting vaccinated, which essentially trains the body to build immunity to Covid-19, you can have a reaction. That will be the immune system producing what we call an immune response,”he says.

Dr Tabu also says there is no need to get tested for Covid-19 before one gets vaccinated, but recommends treatment in case of infection before one is vaccinated.

“If there is active Covid-19 infection, we don’t recommend giving the shot as we don’t want your body to be confused between disease symptoms and the vaccine,” said Dr Tabu.

 “But if you have Covid-19 and are undergoing treatment you need to wait at least two weeks after recovery before taking the jab,” adds the medic.

For those booked for vaccination, Dr Tabu recommends getting the second dose between eight to twelve weeks after the first shot.

He says one can get the second dose even earlier, but will not recommend it.

“Get the second shot at least eight to twelve weeks after the first shot. Getting it earlier won’t cause you harm. However, the expected added protection will be 60 percent less than that you will get at the eight to twelve week period, which is up to 90 percent,” he said.

Dr Tabu also strongly advises against what he calls mixing of vaccines

Do not take the Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines at the same time. If you must take another vaccine, make sure you wait at least 14 days after taking the Covid-19 vaccine, he says.

According to acting director general of health Dr Patrick Amoth, it is not advisable to take doses of different vaccines. This he says, is because the effects of doing so are still unknown.

“We have no research data to show what happens when you mix and match vaccines. It is our recommendation that you take a complete dose of the same vaccine at the required time,” said Dr Amoth in Nairobi on March 28, 2021.

Dr Tabu added that the government planned on vaccinating at least 26 million people, which was an increase from the initial 15 million or 30 percent of its population.

“We plan to scale up the vaccination schedule and shorte the period that should have ended in 2023, to end in mid-next year or 2022,” he said.

He also downplayed concerns by Kenyans on a looming vaccine shortage as the 1.12 million doses in the country’s batch run out in the next 6 days.

“We expect the next batch of vaccines from the Covax facilities to land in the country in May 2021,”said Dr Tabu. “The Covid-19 vaccines have a life span of between three to six months. They are most effective when used during this period, and so we must speed up and ensure they are administered within this window,” he said.

Kenya’s vaccination statistics as at April 15, 2021 stand at 616,166 people. Of these, 346,097 were male while 269,816 were females.

According to Ministry of Health statistics read by Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman on April 15, 2021, the total number of health workers so far vaccinated was 132,537.

“The total number of health workers is 132,537. From the security forces, 48,859 members have been vaccinated, along with 92,246 teachers that have received the vaccine,” said Dr Aman.

On the same day, Education CS George Magoha confirmed a change in the vaccination policy for teachers, which will see all of them vaccinated regardless of age.

Prof Magoha confirmed receiving President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders for all teachers to be included in the vaccination programme.

“This morning the president has directed that all teachers and support staff in our schools be allowed to take part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme as part of the measures to ensure that our schools are safe from the virus,” said Prof Magoha during a press conference to announce the KCPE results in Nairobi.

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