Govt ring-fences 300,000 Sinovac jabs for teachers

Sinovac vaccine. PHOTO / COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Only 209,336 (38 per cent) of the estimated 550,000 teachers had been vaccinated by August 12. The government has pegged the reopening of schools to inoculation of teachers. 

The government has ring-fenced 300,000 doses of Chinese-made Sinovac coronavirus vaccines to inoculate teachers.

The vaccines were received at the end of July as the government moved to vaccinate 22 million people to pave the way for a safe reopening of the economy.

Only 209,336 (38 per cent) of the estimated 550,000 teachers had been vaccinated by August 12. The government has pegged the reopening of schools to inoculation of teachers. 

The Education ministry spokesperson, Dr Dennis Mugimba, yesterday confirmed in a telephone interview that Minister Janet Museveni and her Health counterpart, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, have agreed to prioritise vaccinating teachers, critical staff and students in tertiary institutions using Sinovac jabs.

The Education ministry has since met with district, city and municipal education officers and Kampala Capital City Authority to identify the targeted beneficiaries.

“We are in the process of compiling that list. After which we will submit it to the Ministry of Health,” Dr Mugimba revealed.

Dr Immaculate Ampaire, the deputy manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), confirmed the move to ring-fence the Sinovac vaccines for teachers. 

Asked about the new vaccination centres in schools, Dr Ampaire said districts are “adjusting the sites within the available resources.”

“The doses are still limited, districts are building on what was provided for in the previous implementation approach to allocate the school-based vaccination sites by sub-county,” she said.

As of yesterday, 94 of the 145 districts had submitted to the Education ministry the names of schools that will act as vaccination centres. The final list, which was hammered out yesterday, will be handed over today.

“When the Ministry of Health starts distributing the jabs to its current vaccination centres, it will also distribute to the schools and tertiary institution to act as vaccination centres for teachers, critical non-teaching staff and students above 18 years,” Dr Mugimba said, adding that vaccination will not be done in all schools. 

Ms Museveni on Monday vowed to block teachers who have not been vaccinated from accessing any schools and classrooms. 

She revealed that she had liaised with the Ministry of Health to allow the vaccination programme to be decentralised to get teachers ahead in the queue.

Dr Ampaire, however, revealed that an orientation process of frontline medical workers on the use of the Sinovac vaccines will first take centre-stage. 

“This week we are planning to start training health workers, preparing them for Sinovac before distribution. You cannot push a new vaccine, we cannot take chances,” she said.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, yesterday said they are trying to clear a backlog of 300,000 teachers awaiting a second jab. A batch of AstraZeneca doses totalling 299,000 will be used, with the Sinovac jabs being administered to teachers who had not been inoculated at all.

“For teachers, we have reached about 162,026 for the first dose [of AstraZeneca vaccine], and about 47,310 have received their second dose,” Mr Ainebyoona confirmed 

Those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose will not be eligible for Sinovac as a booster dose because there is no evidence to support the mixing of the two vaccines. 

Compiled by Stephen Otage, Tonny Abet & Damali Mukhaye


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