KAMPALA – Uganda has received its second donation of COVID-19 vaccines. The government of India donated the new consignment consisting of 100,000 AstraZeneca vaccines. The vaccines arrived on Sunday at Entebbe International Airport, just a day after the arrival of the first consignment of COVAX consisting of 864,000 AstraZeneca vaccines.
The country is expecting another donation of 300,000 vaccines from the People’s Republic of China and 2.6 million vaccines from the COVAX facility. Sunday’s delivery brings to 964,000 vaccines that have so far arrived in the country. While receiving the vaccines, the Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said the country is ready to start vaccinating all priority groups.
“We are now set to launch the vaccination program for high priority groups scheduled for next week. We encourage the eligible population to embrace vaccination so that we can reduce COVID-19 severe cases and deaths,” the minister said.
With the available vaccine stock, Uganda can only fully vaccinate 482,000 out of the targeted 22 million persons. According to the health ministry, health workers and teachers will be the first to receive the vaccine. However, the vaccination will be voluntary.
All those taking the vaccine will have to sign a consent form and produce their national identification card before receiving the vaccine. In addition, only persons above 18 years of age are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.
Since there was limited testing of the vaccine, the recipients will spend at least 15 minutes at the health facility for observation of any side effects after taking the vaccine. Several Ugandans abroad who received the vaccine have complained of headache and general body weakness.
The health ministry has scheduled to roll out the vaccination exercise to the district-level this week starting with health workers and teachers. Moses Kamabare, the general manager National Medical Stores (NMS) says that they are ready to deliver vaccines to their respective destinations.
”Our plan is that by close of business on March 10, all vaccines should have been delivered to respective districts,” he said. The vaccine needs to be stored between 2-8 degrees Celsius. The country is yet to receive any of the vaccines ordered.
The government through the Health Ministry ordered 18 million doses from the COVAX facility and the Serum Institute of India. Last week, Cabinet approved the release of Shillings 582 billion for the procurement of the vaccines.
The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine said they are yet to make any financial commitment for the vaccines. “We made orders for the vaccines but are yet to receive any money. We have informed the ministry of finance and we know that the government is looking for the money. We hope to make payment soon,” Dr. Atwine said.
According to health ministry budget projections, over Shillings 1 trillion is needed for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.