By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Uganda through the Ministry of Health has received the first 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine out of 3.5 million doses from the COVAX Facility, a UN initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccine access to the world’s most vulnerable.
The vaccines were received at Entebbe Airport via the Fly Emirates by the Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, UNICEF’s Representative to Uganda Munir Safieldin and World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Uganda Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam.
The first doses in the landlocked country of Uganda will be used to vaccinate people who are most vulnerable and those at more risk such as healthcare workers, security personnel, teachers, and other essential social service providers, said the country’s health minister.
Currently, there have been 115,094,614 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 2,560,995 deaths, reported to WHO. A total of 249,437,147 vaccine doses have been administered however none of the population has been vaccinated in Uganda. Uganda has 40408 confirmed deaths and 334 deaths.
Speaking after receiving the vaccines, Dr. Aceng said; “An exciting day for us as Uganda received the initial batch of 864,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and shipped via the COVAX facility. Thank you to all who made this possible.”
Safieldin said Covid-19 vaccines’ arrival marks a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines globally, in an unprecedented effort to provide at least two billion doses of #Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
“UNICEF is pleased to be a key partner in the COVAX Facility. We have been preparing for this moment by working closely with all partners to make sure that the necessary logistical and planning arrangements are in place,” he said.
“I am delighted to note that Uganda is among the top ten African nations receiving the first doses from COVAX, thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Uganda,” he said.
Dr. Yonas urged all people who have been identified for the initial and subsequent vaccination of the Covid-19 to turn up and take this life-saving vaccine. By protecting ourselves we also protect our loved ones.
The vaccine will be launched on Monday, March 8, and the vaccination will kick off on Wednesday, March 10, Vaccines will be given to eligible persons eight weeks (56 days). However, this can be extended up to 12 weeks as recommended by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunizations.
The vaccination campaign target in Uganda stands at 21,936,011 people equivalent to 49.6 percent of the population of Uganda compared with the target population earlier communicated (60 percent and 27,000,000 people) in line with WHO and Africa CDC global guidance.
The Minister said the vaccines available are not yet authorized for use in persons younger than 18 years of age in whom research is still ongoing. If vaccines become available for below the age of 18, the ministry will update its plan accordingly and inform the public.
The Covid-19 vaccine is given intramuscularly on the left upper arm – 0.5mls each. All health workers from the public, private not for profit and private health facilities will be the first group to receive the vaccines.
The second group will be the teachers. “All teachers will be required to access vaccines from the nearest public health facility starting from HC III up to a National Referral” Hospital.
The third category will be all persons above 50 years of age. The next category eligible for vaccination are the 18 to 50-year olds who have the following underlying health conditions: hypertension, diabetes, cancer, organ diseases such as Liver, Kidney or heart disease. Each category will be alerted on the days on which to report for vaccination
All persons eligible for vaccination will be required to provide a National Identification Card in the case of Ugandan citizens or a passport in the case of non-Ugandans.
“Government Health center IIIs, IVs, District Hospitals, Regional Referral, National Referral Hospitals and specialized Institutions have been designated as vaccination service points in each district and City. Eligible persons will access their vaccines from any of these points,” she said.