the Health Ministry gave a green light for the vaccination of Ugandans
aged fifty years and above against COVID-19. However, as it opens up, it is
emerging that the country may be running low on the vaccines imported early in
The country has so far received 964,000 doses of vaccines from the COVAX
facility and the government of India. So far health ministry statistics
indicate that 90, 196 people who include health workers, security operatives,
teachers, members of parliament and the elderly of 70 years and above have received
Going by those so far vaccinated, there is fear that the country may not have
adequate doses to cover the second round of those that have been vaccinated and
the first round for the fifty-year olds as per the Ministry’s Plan. Three
million elderly people are expected to get vaccinated.
The Head of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), Dr.
Alfred Driwale says they would need seven million doses to be able to fully
immunize this group.
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When URN visited the vaccine center in Mulago, a source who declined to be
named revealed that they had run out of doses on Monday and have since
struggled to ensure vaccination continues.
Uganda is not alone in this crisis. The World Health Organisation (WHO)
has already announced that the vaccine’s facility – COVAX from where Uganda
accessed doses had dwindling stocks.
Speaking at the weekly press conference on Thursday the WHO
Africa Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti worried that many countries in
Africa are struggling to sufficiently cover their high-risk groups as
countries in the west are securing drugs for their entire populations.
Moeti said that even as 44 countries had received, numbers of vaccines per
country, they are still below what they had planned to have reached by the end
of March because of the few stocks. The concern now is that this could affect those who have
already been vaccinated but they require a second jab for boosting their
immunity against the coronavirus.
In Uganda, where vaccination
officially started on March 10th, second jabs should start around May 05 when
their eight weeks interval elapses as per the requirement for the AstraZeneca
jab. Driwale is not sure yet when Uganda’s second consignment comes as he says
they expect the drug between May and June.
Already, he said they resolved to use all the doses currently available in the
country against the initial decision of vaccinating a few people who get their
complete two doses. The second dose is supposed to be given eight to twelve
weeks after the initial one.
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While speaking at a meeting attended by vaccine researchers, Uganda Virus
Research Institute Executive Director, Pontiano Kaleebu expressed fear that if
more vaccines are not in the country in time, it could jeopardize what Uganda
has so far attained in terms of those vaccinated. One of those is that those
already vaccinated may not return for the booster dose.
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However, with just a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Prof. Kaleebu, who
was one of the researchers on the study that established the vaccine’s efficacy,
says one will get 76% protection against mild disease. He says giving a single
dose to a lot of people is better for public health than giving two doses to
just a few.