No one is safe until everyone is safe. That's why UNICEF is putting its vaccine delivery expertise to work in the largest, fastest and most complex vaccination campaign in history.
As head of procurement and supply for the COVAX Facility, a multilateral initiative co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), UNICEF is helping to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics reach the developing world.
Just after midnight on March 3, 2021, Kenya's first COVAX shipment of AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. By 3:00 a.m., workers with forklifts were stacking boxes of vaccine doses at the Central Ministry of Health warehouse.
The UNICEF logistics team was on hand to coordinate distribution as vaccines were loaded onto refrigerated trucks and dispatched to regional depots across the country. Within 36 hours, all 1.02 million vaccine doses had arrived safely at the depots, ready to be delivered to local health centers and hospitals so vaccinations of essential health workers could begin on March 5 according to schedule.
Acting quickly to vaccinate the world equitably
The first consignment of 1.02 million doses is part of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.56 million doses through COVAX. UNICEF is also providing 1,025,000 single-use syringes and 10,250 safety syringe disposal boxes to Kenya, via a global stockpile funded and supported by Gavi. Over the past several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments around the world, assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, supporting cold chain infrastructure, and stockpiling vaccination supplies and PPE so health workers can vaccinate priority groups as soon as possible.
“With the arrival of these vaccines, UNICEF and partners are honoring the promise of the COVAX Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the global rollout of lifesaving vaccines,” said UNICEF Kenya Representative Maniza Zaman. “UNICEF is proud to be part of a partnership supporting the Government of Kenya in this vital work. I would also like to thank the countries that have donated to COVAX. Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the millions of Kenyan children and families affected by COVID-19.”
UNICEF has been preparing for this moment for more than 70 years. Getting vaccines to hard-to-reach places and populations is a key part of UNICEF's mission. As the world's largest single vaccine buyer, UNICEF provides more than 2 billion vaccine doses for routine childhood immunizations and outbreak response every year, enough to vaccinate nearly half of the world's children under the age of 5.
Top photo: On March 3, 2021, WHO Kenya Representative Rudi Eggers (left) and UNICEF Kenya Representative Maniza Zaman were on the tarmac at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to meet Qatar Airways flight QR1341, carrying the country's first AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines procured through the COVAX Facility. © UNICEF/UN0424370/COVAX/Lameck Orina