Covid vaccines running out this week

A Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldier receives her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine during the launch of the exercise at Senior Officers’ Diagnositic Centre Mbuya, Kampala, in March. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Target number. The country plans to vaccinate 21.9 million people to shield the country from the health and economic effects of Covid-19. President Museveni said earlier that the country will need to vaccinate at least 4.8 million people for some preventive measures such as curfew to be lifted.

The government has said it is increasing efforts to bring in more vaccine doses as the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine, which it received in March, gets finished by the end of this week.

This comes at a time when there is increased demand for the vaccines across the country as Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation rise. Many vaccine recipients are also due for the second round.

Dr Alfred Driwale, the country’s head of immunisation programme, last Thursday said some districts such as Mbale have already depleted their stock.

“As the vaccines get exhausted, we are going to start communicating to leaders to demobilise people until we get the next consignment. When we started the vaccination exercise, we could vaccinate a total of 45,000 people per week,” Dr Driwale said.

 He added: “But last week, our report was showing that we had 78,000 people vaccinated. This was a jump of about 100 per cent.For this week (last week), we have seen 143,000 people vaccinated. In the coming week (this week), we are going to see more than 200,000 people vaccinated per week.”

Statistics from Ministry of Health indicated that up to 42,051 people were vaccinated in the country on June 3. 

The country has already used 748,676 doses from the total 964,000 doses they received from global sharing facility –Covax and the Indian government in March. This means only 215,324 doses are currently remaining in the stores.

At the vaccination camp at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala last Wednesday, a  total  of 6,851 people took the jab, according to Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson. 

This was a significant increase from the 3,900 people who were vaccinated previously at the same place.

Dr Driwale, however, said they are facing hardship in getting more doses due to high global demand.

“There is a global shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and Uganda is not the only country which is affected. The world is racing to vaccinate 7 billion people and factories are limited in number and capacity of doses they can manufacture,” Dr Driwale said.

He added: “We are in touch with manufacturers of the Johnson & Jonson vaccine and there is good progress because we already expressed interest.”

The outgoing Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said last Friday that the country expects to get additional 175,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in a fortnight.

“Thereafter, we shall have more vaccines coming in, and also those that the government has paid for will come in. So, nobody will miss out. If you have taken the first dose, be rest assured that your vaccine will be available,” she said at the launch of the  National  COVID-19  resurgence  plan for June 2021-June 2022.

President Museveni said on May 1 that they are also looking for vaccines from Cuba.

 “We were getting the [AstraZeneca Covid-19] vaccines from India but now they are stuck, they don’t have the vaccines. But right now, we are going to get the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) one [vaccines], and also [vaccines] from Cuba,” he said.