Kampala residents shun Covid vaccination

A health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala last year. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • A mini-survey at the health centres found that most health workers were just sitting because there were no people seeking vaccination.

The turnout at Covid-19 vaccine centres in Kampala has remained low amid calls by the Health ministry for increased uptake to effectively control the pandemic and prevent vaccine expiry.

A mini-survey by our reporter yesterday in Kiswa Health Centre IV, Kisugu Health Centre III, Kibuli Muslim Hospital and St Francis Hospital Nsambya, found that the exercise was either not going on or health workers were just sitting because there were no people seeking vaccination.

A few people who had come for the vaccination, were mostly those who wanted to take a jab as a workplace requirement or travel purposes due to international restrictions.

“My uncle connected me to a job in Apac District. But the requirement is that I should be vaccinated. So I came here for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single-shot vaccine so that I can qualify,” Mr Lawrence Omongin, a resident of Namuwongo, Kampala, said at Kiswa.

Mr Walter Oluka, a health worker at the facility, told our reporter that they vaccinate around 20 people every day.

This number is too low when compared to more than 100 people that the facility was vaccinating per day around August 2021 when the country was enduring the most deadly wave of Covid-19.

Some people who wanted the AstraZeneca vaccine were also frustrated because they didn’t get that type.

“People are coming for vaccination. We currently don’t have AstraZeneca, they [Kampala Capital City Authority Health department] have not been supplying that type of vaccine,” Mr Oluka said.
He added: “But we have Pfizer and J&J. If you got AstraZeneca as your first dose, you can get Pfizer as your second dose.” 

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the head of Covid-19 vaccination in the country, said AstraZeneca is out of stock.

At Kisugu Health Centre, the health workers administered one dose in the span of 30 minutes because there were no people to work and the situation was not any different at St Francis Hospital Nsambya, as the health worker at the vaccination point said she was waiting for people.

Kibuli Muslim Hospital was not vaccinating people. “We have not been receiving vaccines. I think the whole of this week, we shall not be vaccinating people,” one of the health workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of hospital protocol, said.

Mass vaccination

According to information from the Health ministry, the third wave of mass Covid-19 vaccination has been rolled out to increase vaccination coverage and prevent the expiry of vaccines. About 373,000 doses of Pfizer donated by foreign countries will expire by end of the month and some 2.4m will also expire by end of July.

What ministry says
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, recently blamed the low uptake of vaccines on a reduction in risk perception among the population because of low Covid-19 numbers being reported and misinformation about the vaccines.

But since 2021, when the exercise began in the country, many people have reported to the National Drug Authority that they experienced side effects and other adverse events after vaccination, the information which is also scaring other people from going for the jabs.

“I call upon those out there that have received only one dose or who have not been vaccinated or those who need a booster dose to go and get vaccinated. We have distributed the vaccines to all your districts. They have been thawed and they are waiting for you,” Dr Aceng said in an interview.

“These [vaccines] were donations from other countries that love us and those that feel that we need to be protected but most importantly, we live in a global world and any infections from anywhere in the world can spread to Uganda and also infections from Uganda can spread to other parts of the world. When we are not vaccinated, we provide fertile ground for the virus to continue mutating and we may end up getting a new variant,” she added.