Health, Education ministries clash over vaccination of children against Covid

Education and Sports Minister, Ms Janet Museveni, Education and Sports Ministry spokesperson, Dennis Mugimba and health minister Jane Ruth Aceng. PHOTO/COMBO

What you need to know:

  • The health ministry recently announced that it would in August commence the Covid-19 vaccination drive for children between age of 5 and 17.

The Education ministry has insisted that no school-going children will be vaccinated against Covid-19 without the Ministry of Health obtaining a written consent from parents and  guardians.

Dr Dennis Mugimba, the spokesperson of the Education ministry, told this publication last Friday that the ministry’s position on the issue of vaccinating children is clear.

“It is not true that the Ministry of Health will vaccinate children in schools against Covid-19 without parents’ or guardians’ consent. All must be done as per guidance given by Education and Sports Minister, Ms Janet Museveni,” Dr Mugimba said.

While addressing a press conference at State House in Nakasero recently, the First Lady advised the Ministry of Health not to make Covid vaccination for children compulsory and said such a decision should be left to parents.

“When parents feel free to take their children for  Covid-19 vaccination, they do it. If they don’t want to vaccinate their children, nobody will force them. It is not compulsory. I do not know where you got that information that it was compulsory,” she wondered.

Despite Ms Museveni’s directive, the Programme Director of Uganda Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), Dr Alfred Driwale, said the Health ministry had finalised the plans to roll out vaccination of children with or without parents’ consent.

Dr Immaculate Ampaire, the deputy programme manager of UNEPI, said children should be vaccinated since the Covid risk prevalence in children is not any different from that of adults.

But Dr Mugimba insisted: “No parent or school will be coerced or forced to have their children vaccinated against Covid”.

He added: “In case the Ministry of Health goes to schools, the school administration should first mobilise parents so that they can seek their written consent but since it is not compulsory, some parents are free to opt out.”

Dr Mugimba also warned that no parent or child should be penalized when they choose not to be vaccinated.

The ministry recently announced that it would in August commence the Covid-19 vaccination drive for children between age of 5 and 17.

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