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Uganda Targeting 18 Million COVID-19 Vaccines

According to the healthministry, two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be procured through the COVAX facility while the other 16 million doses will be procured from manufacturing companies. So far, we have approached the manufacturers of the Moderna, Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines
Uganda has joined the pursuit for COVID-19 vaccines targeting 18 million doses for the first round of vaccinations.

According to the health ministry, two million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford  vaccine will be procured through the COVAX facility while the other 16 million doses will be procured from manufacturing companies. So far, Uganda has approached the manufacturers of the Moderna, Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines. 

A source from the health ministry who preferred to remain anonymous told URN that nine million people will get the initial first dose. The initial vaccines will be received by health workers, vulnerable persons and people most at risk to get infected with the virus. 

"We are looking for other avenues where we can get other doses. We do not want to put all our eggs in one basket and so far we know that we shall be able to immunize nine million people with the first doses that we shall get," the source said.  

Dr Alfred Driwale, the Programme Manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization-UNEPI said that the country is in the final stages of acquiring the required doses.   

"We are on the waiting list of getting vaccines. But as we wait we are preparing for the roll-out of the vaccine. We are going to train health workers on how to inject the vaccine and also make plans on transporting them," he said.  

Unlike the Astrazeneca vaccine that does not require temperature below zero degrees and can be stored in a regular fridge, the other vaccines require temperatures as low as -70 degrees Celsius. Dr Driwale says the country has been carrying out several mass immunization campaigns and has in place the necessary logistics to oversee COVID-19 immunization.  

"Unlike the Europeans, we have been carrying out mass campaigns for a long time. We have a cold storage chain system already in place throughout the country. We do not foresee any problems when it comes to storing the vaccine," he said.   

Earlier this month, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine said that the health ministry was not sure about how much money was needed to procure the vaccines and carry out vaccination. Initial budgets from the ministry show that 1.4 trillion Shillings is needed for the country to carry out the first phase of immunization. 

While the health ministry has not revealed how much it intends to spend on procuring the vaccines, the prices for the vaccines on the open market vary. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the cheapest at USD 4, an equivalent of 14,800 Shillings followed by the Sinopharm vaccine at USD 14 an equivalent of 51,700 Shillings. The Pfizer vaccine costs USD 20 which is equal to 73,803 Shillings while the Moderna's vaccine cost USD 33 (121,786 Shillings)

Each of the vaccines requires two doses. Dr Driwale says they are going to register all persons who get the vaccine to enable easy follow up so that all persons can get both doses.

"We are working on ways that we can make sure that all vaccinated people get both vaccines. We are thinking of registering everyone who gets the first dose for easy follow-up. We shall take their phone and National ID details for easy follow-up," he explained.

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