Although some people considered under the first phase of vaccination against Covid-19 were reluctant to take the jab during the first week of the exercise, the numbers are increasing in various districts across the country, a Daily Monitor survey shows.
The vaccination exercise, which was rolled out on March 10, started with frontline health workers, security personnel and teachers upon the arrival of 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through donations.
The Ministry of Health puts the figure of those to benefit from the jab at 22 million of the 45 million Ugandans.
According to the minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the country needs 45 million doses of vaccines to vaccinate a population of about 22 million and extra doses to cater for refugees. An individual is supposed to get two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within eight to 12 weeks apart.
A mini-survey conducted in selected districts in central Uganda shows that more people have embraced the exercise with some districts yet to hit their targets under the first phase .
According to Dr Nathan Onyachi, the director of Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, they have already hit their target of vaccinating 300 medical staff at the facility.
“If we consider the other categories of people such as security personnel and teachers in the district, we have so far vaccinated a total of 1,000 people against the 3500 doses we received,” he said during an interview last Tuesday.
In Kalangala islands, 90 per cent of the targeted frontline workers have received their first jab.
“Our people have embraced the exercise and more are still coming, but we cannot consider them now since they are not among those who registered under the first phase,” Mr Godfrey Adubi, the Kalangala District assistant health officer, said.
Mr Adubi further said they are left with a few teachers whose scheduled vaccination time was previously disrupted by rain and has been pushed to this week. “We are going to handle the remaining few this week and wait for another batch of doses,” he added.
Mr Warren Wabulembo, the officer-in-charge of Bulange Health Centre III in Namutumba District, said some individuals who were sceptical about the vaccine during the first week have since turned up after seeing President Museveni and other top government officials getting vaccinated . A few days after the government rolled out the vaccination exercise, the President said he was reluctant to take the jab because of his reservations about the vaccine.
But later on March 27, Mr Museveni together with First Lady Janet were vaccinated at Nakasero State Lodge.
In Kiboga, Dr Wycliffe Ongom, who heads the vaccination team in the district, said although the number of those being vaccinated was small at the beginning ,it has since improved , with 1,036 people so far getting the jab. The district has two vaccination centres –one at Bukomero Health Centre IV and another at Kiboga General Hospital.
“If we had got more doses, we could have considered other people who are turning up to get vaccinated, but we are turning them away,” he said.
In Mubende, Dr John Bosco Ssendikadiwa, the assistant district health officer, said they have so far vaccinated 1,015 people of the targeted 7,015.
“We have received some challenge with elderly persons, many have failed to reach the gazetted five centres because they are far from their homes,” he said.
Unlike in some districts where the exercise started the following day after the official launch in Kampala on March 10, Dr Ssendikadiwa said in Mubende, they started a bit late as they waited for consent forms.
“If it was not this problem coupled with failure by some elderly persons to show up, we could have vaccinated almost 70 per cent of the targeted group by now,” he added.
Mr George Kiwanuka, the Gomba District health officer, said a total of 267 health workers have so far been vaccinated. “This week, we shall vaccinate teachers and later security personnel,” he said.
In Rakai District, where 200 health workers have been vaccinated, the authorities also plan to start vaccinating security personnel, teachers and elderly persons this week, according to Mr Patrick Ssekidde, the administrator of Rakai District hospital.
According to the Ministry of Health, they are targeting to vaccinate 49.6 per cent of the population, which is about 21,936,011 people in a phased manner. Each phase is planned to cover 20 per cent of the population, which is about 4,387,202 people.
The first phase of the vaccination exercise targets 150,000 health workers, security personnel (250,000), teachers and other essential social service providers (550,000). Persons from the age of 50 years and above, estimated at 3,348,500, and persons with underlying health conditions aged below 50 years (500,000).Other primary essential groups are airline workers, media, prisoners, tour operators and guides, bankers, immigration officers, Uganda Revenue Authority and Uganda Wildlife Authority staff and humanitarian workers.
Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa , Denis Edema, Fred Ssewajje, Malik Fahad Jjingo, Brian Adams Kesiima, Ambrose Musasizi, Edison Ndyansiima & Sylvester Ssemugenyi