Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Education and Sports is worried as over 99% of all the teachers registered across the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are still hesitant to receive the AstraZeneca jabs giving excuses like long distances to the vaccination centres.
As different frontline workers who were identified by government started receiving the jab across the country, it is reported that the majority of teachers, a key category among the essential workers, are still shunning the vaccination citing different reasons.
When the government received the AstraZeneca jabs, it started with the vaccination of the health workers and then the teachers were to follow on March 16 to 20, 2021, on grounds that they dealt with a big population of about 1.5 learners that needed to be protected.
Ismail Mulindwa, the Director Basic and Secondary Education says that the government had a target of vaccinating over 550,000 teachers, however of these, only a mere 7,000, that is 98.73% of the teachers have turned up for the jab.
Several teachers have cited reasons why they have not yet taken the jab as is required of them. From Soroti, Stephen Otim who is the chairperson of Headteachers Association Arapai reported that the long distances to vaccination centres have hindered the teachers response to the exercise.
Otim says teachers want COVID-19 vaccination extended nearer to them as many find it hard to travel more than 10 kilometers to get vaccinated.
According to Mulindwa, the ministry of education is working hand in hand with the health ministry to ensure that the issues that were raised by the teachers as stopping them from getting vaccinated are worked on to enable them receive the jab.
Mulindwa says that the government cannot just look on as the teachers try to use excuses to avoid getting vaccinated yet they deal with a big population of about 1.5 million learners that for now are attending school.
He adds that though it is one’s right to receive or refuse the jab, the ministry will have to ensure that it shows the teachers the importance of getting vaccinated in order to avoid issues of applying force or coming up with stringent measures.
Among the issues that the ministry is planning to deal with is sensitizing the teachers on the need to get vaccinated using different media platforms and engaging them through their superiors as some were fed by wrong information about the AstraZeneca jab.
Mulindwa also says that working together with the health ministry to work on the issue of distance was identified by the teachers as an excuse of not vaccinating. He says that centers of vaccination are going to be brought nearer to the schools.
The ministry gazetted health centers and hospitals as vaccination centers for the COVID-19, which some of the teachers in the rural communities are complaining about to be long distances from their stations.
Mulindwa adds that the ministry has already issued letters to the local government leaders instructing them to support the vaccination exercise of teachers and here RDCs, education and health district officials are to be involved in mobilizing teachers for vaccination.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for ministry of health, Emmanuel Ainebyona confirms that both ministries are working hand in hand to ensure that the teachers as essential workers are assisted to get their jabs without limitations.