BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU AND JOHNISANI OCAKACON
KAMPALA: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2021
When health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, took an AstraZeneca jab on her left arm in front of cameras, her over riding aim was to assure the people that the vaccine was safe.
That was at Mulago hospital on March 10, 2021 and with that Dr Aceng became the first person in Uganda to be inoculated.
Then the likes of Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent Secretary and other top bras at the ministry followed her lead.
Being first on the line to get the jab was meant to rally Ugandans, especially those deemed to be at the highest risk of contracting and dying of the deadly pandemic.
These are the health workers, teachers, armed forces personnel, elderly people from 50 years of age upwards and people 18 years and above who have comorbidity like hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis et cetera.
Combined, this vulnerable group constitute 4.8 million, about 22% of the 22 million eligible Ugandans due for vaccination.
At the time of launching the vaccination programme, Uganda had recorded 40,337 confirmed Covid-19 cases and about 444 deaths.
First forward to October 13, 2021, Dr Aceng was in front of cameras again updating the nation on how it has fared with vaccination.
Her report card showed that a total of 2,378,171 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered to the population countrywide.
Of the priority population, a less than impressed Dr Aceng read out that only 34.2% of health workers had been fully vaccinated, 14.9% of teachers, 1.7% of the elderly, 1.8% of people with comorbidity and 19.4% of the security personnel had taken their two shots of the vaccine.
“I must say the number is still too small and with increased availability of vaccines I urge those eligible to get vaccinated” she remarked.
On the side of confirmed cases and deaths Dr Aceng stated as follows; “The country has registered 124864 cumulative confirmed cases of Covid-19, a total of 96,321 recoveries and 3,179 deaths.”
In addition, she listed eight districts plus Kampala as areas that have seen increased resurgence in the rate of new infections.
It was in view of the above revelations that Dr Aceng issued another round of a rallying call to the citizens to vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2.
She added 330,000 students at tertiary institutions to the most-at-risk population to be prioritized for injection.
“The government of Uganda prioritizes Covid-19 vaccination as a strategic intervention for control of the pandemic and safe and sustainable re-opening of the economy and the social sector including schools,” the minister underlined.
She reiterated that all vaccines being administered to the population at the designated vaccination sites are safe, effective and free of charge.
The good news, said Dr Aceng, is that the government has received offers to supply vaccines adequate to vaccinate 27 million people.
She said 18 million people would get vaccines bought by the government while nine million people will be vaccinated with vials offered by Uganda’s friends- Belgium, France, European Union, the United States of America and China.
With these expected acquisition, the government is confident of vaccinating 13.5 million people by the year end.