With vaccines coming in, it’s time to tackle hesitancy

Saturday September 25 2021
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A consignment of the Pfizer Vaccines donated to Uganda by the American government pictured after being offloaded at Entebbe International Airport on September 20, 2021. PHOTO/ STEPHEN OTAGE

By EDITOR

On Thursday, Uganda received a total of 655,053 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the French (501,153) and Belgian (153,900) governments through the Covax facility.

Earlier on Monday, the country received 1.6 million doses of Pfizer vaccine from the US government. This was in addition to the 647,080 doses of the Moderna vaccine the US donated at the beginning of the month.
Uganda has also received hundreds of thousands of the Sinovac vaccine from China, and the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK, among other donations. 

At least 1.2 million Ugandans have been vaccinated with the first dose while 520,575 people have received their second dose as of this week. 

The vaccines come in at a time that government is planning a gradual reopening of the economy. The State minister for Primary Healthcare Margaret Muhanga says the latest donations will be ring-fenced for priority groups.

While issuing a roadmap for the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday, President Museveni set the start of November as the date for reopening of institutions of higher learning as long as learners and staff of the institutions are vaccinated.

He also said most of the economy would be reopened at the beginning of 2022 if the target number of 4.8 million vulnerable and essential workers are inoculated.

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For weeks, various stakeholders had complained of inadequate vaccines in the country. Those who had received their first jab had to wait longer for their second shot because the vaccines were not enough.

At the global stage, a lot of negotiations and lobbying have gone on with many warning of a “vaccine apartheid” in Africa. Less than two per cent of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

But the efforts by actors, such as the Covax facility, seem to be paying off and Uganda is now receiving vaccines. However, vaccines arriving is just the first step towards fighting Covid-19. People need to be willing to receive the inoculations.

Of the 2.1 million doses of vaccines distributed to districts, according to the National Medical Stores, about 1.7 million doses have been utilised. This means that by September 17, at least 455,000 doses had not been administered. 

Up to 68 districts had balances that will expire on September 30. This calls for interventions to deal with vaccination hesitancy. The masses need to be educated that the vaccines are safe their benefits outweigh the dangers. Otherwise most of these vaccines will go to waste.

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