Many students not vaccinated as medical schools reopen

Over 1m people have been vaccinated in Uganda, with the majority taking only a single jab of the Covid-19 vaccines. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

The decision to reopen medical schools follows a directive by President Museveni.

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Many medical students in Kampala have returned to school before getting vaccinated against Covid-19, contrary to the government directive, Daily Monitor established.

Ms Eva Nampiima Kakonge, the principal of Mulago School of Nursing And Midwifery, told Daily Monitor yesterday that only about 7 per cent of the more than 400 students who resumed learning on August 13, have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“The students are reporting in cohorts and the first cohort is about 425 students and so far almost all of them have reported. According to what we have at the moment, 30 students have completed their vaccination and 150, have received their first jab and the rest [about 240] are still pending,” she said.

Ms Kakonge said they failed to get Covid-19 vaccines at Mulago hospital for the learners who are partially or not vaccinated. She, however, said engagements are ongoing with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to avail vaccines for the learners.

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) executive director, Prof Mary Okwakol, in her August 5 letter,  said: “Students and staff, who will not have accessed vaccines by the time of re-opening, will be vaccinated on arrival at schools. Government has made arrangements to carry out vaccination at the schools.” 

The students have a high risk of contracting the coronavirus as some of them undergo placement in hospitals to practice. 

But Mr Daniel Nuwabiine, the head of public and corporate affairs at KCCA, said medical students should get vaccinated at designated centres like any other priority group.

KCCA speaks
“We had limited vaccines but the frontline people can come to centres that are designated by KCCA [for Covid-19 vaccination]. The vaccination centres have been directed to consider [the students], so that can go to those points with their IDs,” he said.

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the vice chancellor of Makerere University, said they are also engaging the government to vaccinate their medical students who have resumed learning.

“What was important was for them to resume studies to avoid a big vacuum when the current [medical] interns leave hospitals. They have come back in large numbers and they are going to be vaccinated,” he said, adding that the medical school has about 1,000 students.

The university management didn’t disclose the exact number of students that returned and those vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) Academic Registrar, Dr Halima Wakabi Akbar, said their students are being vaccinated at school. She said about 60 students resumed out of 147.

The IUIU Faculty of Health Sciences has two schools; Habib Medical School and IUIU School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The decision to reopen medical schools follows a directive by President Museveni.
Ms Kakonge said they have set up a special Covid-19 task force in their school to sensitise learners about SOPs and handle any case of Covid-19 that may occur within the institution under the assistance of Mulago hospital.

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