Rotary Uganda, the renowned fellowship of philanthropists drawn from all fields of life, today kicked off a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive to take place countrywide all through the weekend.
Rotary District Governor Elect, Rotarian Peace Taremwa, announced today that close to 100 Rotary Clubs countrywide would work with the Ministry of Health, Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Uganda Health Federation and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, to administer COVID-19 vaccines through the Rotary infrastructure.
“The most important thing to do now is to go and get your jab. The reasons are very simple. Life is the most important aspect anybody can have. As Rotarians our vision is to be people of action. Two weeks is enough for everybody to get vaccinated. Vaccines are already at the districts and the vaccination centres have been identified. We start tomorrow,” he announced, at the Coca-Cola stand at the UMA Showgrounds in Lugogo.
“We must have everybody vaccinated because the economy must open. If you want to keep alive, please respect some of these interventions that have been developed by our friends the scientists. As Rotary we felt it was important to join the vaccination drive. Now I call upon all Ugandans to respond – come and get vaccinated,” he stressed.
The vaccination drive will leverage the widespread Rotary network across the country to reach Ugandans in all corners. The Rotary Club of Sonde, in Mukono, kicked off with vaccination in Namanve at the Coca-Cola Plant, receiving people from across Mukono district.
PSFU Executive Director, Stephen Asiimwe, said the private sector was keen on vaccination because of the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
“As the private sector this is not the first time we are doing this and so we thank Rotary Uganda for joining in. We believe that an unhealthy country leads to an unhealthy economy. We have lost so many people, our businesses have been hit and the economy has been hit. We do not want to enter the new year without a critical mass being vaccinated,” he said.
Simon Kaheru, Public Affairs and Communication Director at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda, and head of the PSFU Technical Committee on COVID-19, said more individual private sector companies would be joining in to support the drives countrywide.
“We need to stress that the only way the economy can be reopened and stay open is if we get vaccinated. All Ugandans should learn from what countries in the developed world have done – after vaccinating the majority of their people they opened up their malls and businesses, their stadia, concerts and nightclubs. Let’s do the sensible thing and get vaccinated so we can get close to normal lives,” he said.
Dr. Daniel Ayen Okello, KCCA Director of Public Health and in-charge of Vaccination, represented the Ministry of Health at the event and pledged to provide all vaccines and personnel necessary.
“We are always happy when we get partners to come on board to support the vaccination programme. In order for us to be safe when we re-open we need a critical mass. The private sector sometimes speaks better to the people and communities. Rotary is community based, PSFU is an association of associations and Coca-Cola has its distribution network and loyal customers – we need all hands on deck,” he said.
“We have seen that we can actually vaccinate over 500,000 people in a two-day period when we pull together and run a mass campaign like this countrywide, so we know this new initiative will work wonders in getting us to the critical numbers,” Dr. Okello said.
The Government of Uganda continues to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination as a strategic intervention to control the pandemic including the effects posed by the new Omricon variant. Dr. Okello said over 7.8 million people had been vaccinated as of today, meaning that 50% of the target population could be reached by the end of the year if the mass drive is taken seriously.
While COVID-19 vaccination is being accelerated, it’s important that people still adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including the mandatory use of face masks when in public, maintaining good hand washing practices at all times, avoiding crowds and keeping a distance of 2 meters from each other.
To date, the Government has received a total of 17,131,090 doses through donations and direct procurement by the Government of Uganda; of which 10,523,853 doses have been distributed countrywide. The distribution of the remaining 6,607,237 doses is ongoing.