The Government of Kenya through the Ministries of Health (MOH) and the East African Community (MEAC), has kicked off a COVID-19 vaccination in Busia. The drive is targeting cross border women traders and long-distance truck drivers along four border entry points.

The vaccination exercise is funded by DANIDA and the EU through TradeMark East Africa and supported by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) as implementing partners. The exercise will start at the Busia One Stop Border Post and roll out to the Malaba, Isebania and Taveta border entry points over the next two months.

The program aims to administer the Johnson & Johnston (J&J) vaccine to at least 40,500 individuals involved in the logistics and cross border trade sectors along the border regions. It also seeks to encourage positive behaviour change for the adoption of preventative health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health has indicated that stopping the spread of COVID-19 will require several measures, and has advocated for vaccination to be included amongst the preventative measures.

Speaking at the vaccination roll out, Dr. Lucy Mecca, the vaccine quality and supply manager at the National Vaccines Immunization Program said, “The vaccines that we are deploying are safe and they are the best bet in preventing severe infection, hospitalization and possible death due to COVID-19. We are cognizant of the exposure that the traders and truck drivers encounter in their daily interactions.”

On his part, Patrick Maingi, Head of Public Private Dialogue at KEPSA stated, “The pandemic has had an adverse effect on cross border trade as many critical trade activities were stalled due to the resultant lockdowns and curfews. With the uptake of vaccines, we shall not only protect ourselves and our businesses, but also progressively secure jobs and reclaim normalcy to spur recovery of trade across the borders to pre-pandemic levels.”