The big question: Who will receive the virus vaccine first?

Tuesday December 08 2020
Covid-19 vaccine.

Scientists have worked tirelessly round the clock to have a Covid-19 vaccine ready for distribution. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


It has been slightly over a year since the coronavirus was reported in China, and considering how long it takes for vaccines to be produced, this year scientists have worked tirelessly round the clock to have it ready for distribution, and it is commendable.

Science is complicated and testing vaccines takes time. Most of the time, these sorts of scientific innovations can take a number of years when it comes to testing alone. Now that we are talking about vaccines, many countries are grappling with how this Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed.

China already has long lists of people volunteering to be the first to be vaccinated, but before they are vaccinated, they have to sign a form stating that they understand it could be a risk. However, people come in droves, lining up for hours.

Countries, including Russia, UK and US, are racing against time to come up with a vaccine.

And at the moment, the US is exploring ways that it can distribute vaccines, knowing that the first batch is a limited number, America has to select who will be the first to receive the jab.

And this brings about a question of ethics — Who is important in the society to be vaccinated?


First responders and those who have been in the forefront when it comes to fighting the virus such as healthcare workers, who are determined to receive the vaccine. Even so, their numbers are uncertain, and the first batch may not be enough for all of them.

Who will be in the second batch? The US is leaning toward senior citizens and critical service industry providers.

There is some glimmer of hope for developing countries, some will receive vaccines as donations.

In Kenya, you begin to wonder, even though we're going to get a number of vaccines, who will be vaccinated first?

We've already seen how difficult it has been for our healthcare systems to manage the upsurge of patients.  Our doctors and nurses have been on strike on a few occasions during this period.

Health workers have died because of Covid-19 related complications.

This is a concern; we have seen the Universal Health Coverage fail in pilot counties as much it is one of the current administration’s priorities.

Another worry is what happened with the personal protective equipment (PPE) Kenya received as donations months ago. A good number of the equipment is in stores.

There have even been cases of patients who have been paying for every single PPE that they use, while admitted in hospital, yet equipment was donated for patients and health workers to use.

Is it going to be the same with vaccines?

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, executive director at Siasa Place @NerimaW