Kampala, Uganda | URN | All staff members at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) will have to get a COVID-19 jab, the management has announced.
A tweet by UCI says that all staff members will be required to get the vaccine. “Because the staff of the UCI is constantly interacting with patients, they are all required to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement said.
This is contrary to the Health Ministry guidelines, which say taking COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary. Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of the institute says that all the 400 need to get vaccinated by Tuesday 6, March 2021. He explains there is a need for all staff to get the jab since they are at high risk of contracting the virus.
But Dr. Amon Aruho, a medical litigator says that UCI cannot force health workers or other members of staff to get vaccinated because they have a choice whether or not to get the COVID-19 jab.
Our reporters visited UCI on Good Friday and found less than five people waiting to get the jab. Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager for Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization, says that due to low uptake of the vaccine among priority groups such as health workers, they have had to open up vaccination to include more groups.
“By now, if all health workers, teachers and security personnel were vaccinated, the vaccines would be over. But they are not, We have over 500,000 vaccines left and this is mainly due to hesitance to get the jab by people who need it like health workers,” he said. A total of 150,000 health workers were supposed to be vaccinated by March 15th, 2021, but less than 50,000 have been vaccinated to date.
Data from the health ministry shows that over 1,800 health workers have been infected with COVID-19 since last year, with 21 succumbing to the disease. While vaccination will help protect health workers from the highly infectious disease, health rights activists that this publication spoke to say compulsory vaccination goes against their rights.