By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Ugandan government is seeking to legally mandate vaccines in draft legislation aimed at boosting the East African country’s drive to inoculate more people against COVID-19.
The proposed bill, which is subject to changes as it faces scrutiny by a parliamentary health committee, calls for a six-month jail term for failure to comply with vaccination requirements during disease outbreaks.
Attempts by Ugandan officials in recent months to enforce limited mandates have been unsuccessful. A vaccine requirement for people using public transport faced opposition from operators, and bars have returned to business after an extended lockdown without strict adherence to pandemic-era rules.
President Yoweri Museveni had warned last year that local officials would be held accountable for any expired doses, putting pressure on them to administer substantial batches of vaccines that often arrived with looming expiration dates.
Now it appears authorities will try to codify vaccine mandates.
African nations such as Zimbabwe and Ghana have announced vaccine mandates for public employees and others.
In Uganda, which has reported more than 162,000 virus cases, the U.S. alone has donated 11 million vaccine doses — part of a wave of charity toward developing countries whose leaders have accused rich nations of hoarding vaccine doses at their expense.
Still, Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated continent against COVID-19, with about 11% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people fully jabbed.
Only six of Africa’s 54 countries had met the global target of vaccinating 40% of their populations against COVID-19 by the end of 2021, according to the World Health Organization.