Covid-19 vaccines will expire in July, says Health ministry

Wednesday April 21 2021
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A Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier receives a Covid-19 jab at the Senior Officers’ Diagnositic Centre in Mbuya, Kampala, on April 18. More than 280,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Uganda could expire before being used. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA.

By Tonny Abet

More than 280,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines could expire before being used if vaccination continues at the current rate, Daily Monitor has learnt.
Officials at the Ministry of Health told this newspaper that the vaccines are due to expire by July.

Uganda received 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covax global sharing initiative and a donation from the Indian government in March but by April 18, only 239,617 doses had been used in the last 38 days.
This means that about 6,305 people are being vaccinated each day and only 441,350 doses will have been used within the 70 days left to exhaust the remaining doses before they expire. 

This means that at least 283,033 doses will be left to expire.
Dr Patrick Odong, the district health officer of Amuru District, said they are increasing efforts to sensitize people to take the jabs.
“We are working to improve the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine. We have already vaccinated 221 people in Amuru District and I do not think the vaccines will expire before they are all used,” he said.

Amuru District is one of the districts which Dr Alfred Driwale, the Head of immunisation programme at the Health ministry, had earlier singled out over low vaccine uptake. 
As of April 13, the district had only vaccinated 45 people, although they received 3,000 doses of the vaccine, according to Dr Driwale. 

Prof Nelson Sewankambo, a member of the committee which government established to advise on vaccine access and deployment, said: “The issue of expiry is not a new thing. It applies to many things in life, including bread that we buy. If we continue with the hesitancy, the vaccine can expire. But what we have received is not even enough for the target population.” 

He added: “I took my jab on the day they launched and I am waiting for my second dose. Do not be scared of blood clots. Since we started vaccinating people no one has had the issue of blood clotting.”
It is unclear whether the government officials who have been pushing for compulsory vaccination of frontline workers, were being driven by inside forces to save the few doses of the vaccines from expiry.
The AstraZeneca vaccines have a shelf life of only six months. 

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ELSEWHERE
Africa News, an online news site, reported yesterday that South Sudan was considering disposing of 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that expired before they could be used. 
This was a few days after Malawi reportedly destroyed 16,000 doses of the vaccines over the same issue of expiry.

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