Why Rukungiri, Kisoro registered high Covid vaccination uptake

A doctor administers a Covid-19 vaccine at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala last year . PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA  

What you need to know:

  • During a bench-marking spearheaded by Unicef last week, the Rukungiri health officer, Dr Moses Akasiima, told journalists that the district leadership embraced the vaccination exercise.

Health officials in Rukungiri and Kisoro have attributed the high Covid-19 vaccination coverage in their districts to exemplary leadership and sensitisation.

A report from the Ministry of Health last month showed how regions performed in Covid-19 vaccination coverage, with Kampala topping the list at 105 percent, followed by Kigezi Sub-region at 88 percent, and Lango coming in the third at 81 percent.

During a bench-marking spearheaded by Unicef last week, the Rukungiri health officer, Dr Moses Akasiima, told journalists that the district leadership embraced the vaccination exercise.

“I was the first person to take the vaccine when we launched the vaccination programme on March 17, 2020. I was followed by the RDC (Resident District Commissioner), and chief administrative officer before the rest of the community followed,” Dr Akasiima said.

 “So the district and the technical leadership embraced the campaign when the taskforce of about 34 people took jabs. The vaccination has been successful. One of our key success stories is that top leadership has been exemplary,”  he added. Dr Akasiima also said the leadership met regularly during the peak of the pandemic coupled with media mobilisation, urging  residents to get vaccinated.

He said whether there were resources or not, the leadership met on how to tackle the pandemic.
“We were meeting weekly and our agenda would be very brief. So whatever would have been discussed, would be implemented. Also whenever President Museveni would address the nation, the following day, we would implement his directives fully. We also implemented all the standard operating procedures (SOPs),”   Dr Akasiima added.

His Kisoro counterpart, Dr Steven Nsabiyumva, said they carried out vigorous mass community mobilisation.

Dr Nsabiyumva said initially, residents were hesitant to embrace the exercise due to misconceptions until health workers and teachers took the jabs without experiencing any major side effects.
“At first people did not want to be vaccinated because there were rumours about the negative effects of the vaccines but when the health workers got vaccinated, people realised that they don’t have side effects, and starting demanding them,” Dr Nsabiyumva said.

“In terms of coverage, the target group we vaccinated is now above 80 percent,” he added.
Ms Catherine Ntabadde, the communication specialist at Unicef, said in conjunction with the Health ministry, they were bench-making in Kigezi region to learn from them on what they did differently to achieve such a high vaccine uptake.

“This will help us encourage other people on how to increase their vaccine uptake and be protected against Covid-19. So our being here is to help us learn and then trickle down the messages,” she said.
“Our priority is to support government through the Ministry of Health to increase vaccine uptake across the country because the vaccines are available and more are coming through,” Ms Ntabadde added.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the  spokesperson of the Health ministry , applauded the best performing districts.
“I hope the other district leadership will be able to replicate what these people have done. We have challenges in Karamoja, where the first dose coverage remains at 48 percent, which is very low but also some parts of Acholi,”Mr Ainebyoona said.

Some of the regions with low vaccine uptake during the first dose according to the Ministry of Health records include Bukedi at 58 percent, Bugisu (58 percent), Acholi (59 percent), and south central (53 percent).

Vaccination status as of March 27

-People who have received at least one dose of any vaccine- 14,602,743
-People fully vaccinated with a single dose vaccine- 5,155,716
-People fully vaccinated- 9,163,289
-Percentage of people who received at least one dose- 68 percent 
-Percentage of people fully vaccinated- 43 percent
-People fully vaccinated with two doses-4,007,573.

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