Uganda received 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covax global sharing initiative and a donation from the Indian government in March but by April 18, only 239,617 doses had been used in the last 38 days. According to an April 21 Daily Monitor story titled, “Covid-19 vaccines will expire in July, say health Minister”, about 6,305 people are being vaccinated each day and only 441,350 doses will have been used within the 70 days left to exhaust the remaining doses before they expire, which means that at least 283,033 doses will be left to expire.
In the story, Patrick Odong, the district health officer of Amuru District says they are increasing efforts to sensitise people to take the jabs. Well, because numbers don’t lie, it is quite clear that the sensitisation being done if any, is lacking significantly.
One of the reasons why a number of Ugandans have shunned vaccination is fear and uncertainty which are fueled by lack of accurate and adequate information. Myths about the vaccine still abound as has been reported.
Government has it’s work cut out. There is need to draw up a highly effective and informative communication campaign that will yield results in the shortest time possible aimed at convincing the populace to receive the Covid-19 jabs.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, government invested deeply in sensitisation and creating community awareness about the virus. Messages were put out in print, radio, TV and all sorts of media about the virus; how it is spread, how it’s spread can be prevented, signs and symptoms, etc. These messages were translated in numerous local languages and it is safe to say, the campaign was successful. The message was received and understood. Myths and falsehoods were eliminated.
Now that we have the vaccine, what’s stopping us from using the same level of vigilance and dedication in sensitising the masses about the vaccine? Why should a vaccine that we have waited for, for long now go to waste because those it’s meant for are reluctant to receive it?
On April 21, we reported in a story titled, “Six districts register surge in Covid-19 cases”, that Gulu, Oyam, Arua, Amuru, Kitgum and Kampala have had an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. Such news should be reason enough to prioritise Covid-19 vaccine sensitisation.
We are in a hurry to get back to the way our lives were before the pandemic, but this will not happen unless we achieve a certain level of herd immunity.
This can only happen if as many people as possible especially the vulnerable get vaccinated in the shortest time possible.