1. What vaccines are available in the country?
Currently, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has approved Oxford/AstraZeneca for use in Kenya.
2. How do the covid vaccines work?
The covid vaccines approved in the country work by introducing a vector (not the virus that causes Covid but a different, harmless virus) that will enter the body’s cells and use the body’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes Covid. The body’s immune response then recognizes and mounts an immune response to this harmless piece in the body. As such, the body will then be primed to quickly react to effectively defend it against Covid-19.
3. How effective are the vaccines in preventing infection from Covid-19?
The vaccine has been shown to have 99% prevention against severe forms of covid that require hospitalization. As such, AstraZeneca has a significant role in reducing mortality associated with Covid.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to be 70% effective in preventing mild, symptomatic Covid infections.
4. Do the vaccines protect against the new Covid variants?
For AstraZeneca, preliminary studies conducted within the UK to assess the efficacy against the new British variant show that the vaccine maintains a high efficacy. A similar study done in South Africa reveals that the efficacy of the vaccine against the symptomatic South African variant reveals that the vaccine is less effective (about 25%)against this variant. Data concerning its effectiveness in preventing severe infection and death is, however, quite promising as there have been no deaths reported in the country from any individual who has received both doses of the vaccines.
5. How many doses of the vaccine does one require?
Two doses are required in order for one to be fully vaccinated. For Astrazeneca, researchers indicate that the 2 doses can be administered within a 4-12 week interval. In Kenya, the interval has been pegged at 8 weeks.
In case the second dose of the vaccine is missed for whatever reason, the vaccine should be taken within 7 days of the due date of obtaining the second dose. If this is missed, the vaccine should be obtained as soon as possible.
6. Are there any side effects of taking the vaccine?
The most common side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine include;
- Pain or tenderness at the injection site
- Muscle or joint aches
7. Are there any medical reasons that would make me ineligible for the vaccine?
Global consensus on immunization best practices indicates that very few people should not receive the vaccine. These are:
- People who have experienced anaphylaxis after a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine.
- Acutely ill people (vaccination should be deferred until recovered).
- Routine administration for some groups (e.g. children) is not recommended due to a lack of safety and efficacy data.
- The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is approved for people aged ≥18 years.
- The COVID-19 vaccines can be administered to people who have previously contracted COVID-19 (may choose to defer administration for six months following infection).
8. Is the Vaccine Safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding?
The COVID-19 vaccine is not routinely recommended for pregnant women who do not have related medical risk factors for severe COVID-19 and/or high risk of exposure. This is a precautionary measure as there are no documented direct or indirect effects to the pregnancy, or to fetal development.
- Women who are not at risk of serious COVID-19 infection and/or high risk of exposure may prefer to wait to receive a vaccination until after their pregnancy.
- Pregnant women with medical risk factors and/or at high risk of exposure should discuss potential benefits and risks of the vaccine with their health professional.
- Experts suggest there is no foreseeable risk for breastfeeding women or the infant, and that the baby may gain some degree of immunity if administered during the breastfeeding period.
- Pregnancy planning does not need to be delayed following vaccination and that those who fall pregnant after receiving the vaccine are at no increased risk of harm.
9. Can you still spread Covid after being vaccinated?
Many more people need to be vaccinated before we achieve sufficient community immunity. Until that happens, you still can pass the virus to others, even if you are fully vaccinated.
10. Should I continue to observe the covid protocols after being fully vaccinated?
Yes, all the protocols of washing hands, sanitizing, social distancing, wearing of masks, and all other Ministry of Health guidelines should be adhered to as the virus can still be transmitted even after vaccination. A critical number of the population needs to be vaccinated (60%) for the country to gain herd immunity. And even then, the virus remains transmissible.
11. Should I get vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?
Yes, you should still get vaccinated even in the case of prior infection of Covid as re-infection is common and has been documented innumerably. Emerging strains of the virus also increase the necessity of vaccination as the vaccines have shown efficacy against the new strains of Covid.
12. Can the vaccine cause blood clots, Deep vein thrombosis(DVT), and pulmonary embolism?
The vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of blood clots in individuals that receive it.
However, the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of thrombocytopenia (reduced platelet count – the component in blood that enables it to clot), with or without bleeding.
In Europe, out of 20 million individuals that have received the vaccine, only 7 of them have exhibited signs of blood clots in multiple vessels. There has, however, as of 1st April been no proven causal link between the vaccine and the blood clots and investigations are ongoing.
The benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 (which itself results in clotting problems and maybe fatal) continue to outweigh the risk of side effects
13. What role does Ponea health play in the acquisition of the vaccine?
Ponea Health is a concierge healthcare service provider. As such we are not importers, distributors, or resellers of the vaccine. We have partnered with the Ministry of Health’s accredited private facilities and in stipulation with laid out eligibility criteria to efficiently avail the vaccine to the general public.
Eligibility criteria and concierge booking fees apply.
14. Will I get a certificate after the vaccine showing that I have been vaccinated?
After receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you will receive a text message from MOH-CHANJO detailing that you have received the vaccine, a contact to call in case of any side effects, and the date for your subsequent appointment.
15. Is the covid vaccine safe for solid organ transplant recipients?
People who have solid organ transplants and individuals who are immunosuppressed were excluded from the clinical trials of the vaccine. Therefore, it is unknown if the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are as efficacious in solid organ transplant recipients as in those without an organ transplant or who are not considered immunosuppressed. However as the vaccine does not utilize a live coronavirus, it is reasonable to extrapolate that the vaccine will offer some benefit and that the benefits of vaccine-induced immunity for this population far outweigh any theoretical risks of immunization.
As with most vaccines, there is a potential for blunted immune response in individuals who are immunocompromised due to their disease or treatment. Please contact a general physician
for more information.