COVID-19 vaccine uptake on the rise in Gulu amidst spike in new infections

COVID-19 vaccine uptake on the rise in Gulu amidst spike in new infections
Residents of Gulu are embracing the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Gulu, Uganda | URN | The uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in Gulu district has increased in the last three days amidst a spike in new infections.

Gulu district has registered over 100 COVID-19 cases in the last one month. This brings the number of cases registered in the district to over 1,800 with 33 deaths.

The government rolled out COVID-19 vaccination nationwide on March 17th, 2021. However, many districts are struggling to convince people to take the COVID-19 jab. The exercise which commenced in Gulu district two days after the national launch had only attracted 1,731 people by Thursday 29, April 2021 last week.

However, the district has registered an increase in COVID-19 vaccine uptake early this week. More than 700 people have taken the jab within the last three days. Those vaccinated include medical students of Gulu University and staff, medical workers from various health facilities and other frontline workers.

Dr. Felix Kaduchu, the Dean Faculty of Medicine at Gulu University told this publication in an interview on Tuesday 4, May 2021 evening that some students tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. “We have not forced them to take the vaccination but they realized that some of their colleagues had tested positive with the virus and decided to embrace the exercise,” Dr. Kaduchu explained.

He says that COVID-19 infection in North region stands at 10 per cent, conducted by the University Multifunctional Science Laboratory over the last two months.

Dr. Robert Mukembo, the Doctor In charge of the Medical Students at the University revealed that 75% of the medicals students at the University have taken the COVID-19 vaccine. He urges the government to adopt a new strategy if the vaccination exercise is to succeed.

COVID-19 vaccination in Gulu is taking places at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Aywee health centre III in Laroo-Pece division, Patiko health centre III in Patiko sub county and Awach health centre IV at the new district headquarters.

Lilly Apiyo, an enrolled nurse In charge of Aywee health centre III noted that much as the front liners in the facility have embraced the vaccination, the uncertainty of the vaccine is still affecting the exercise. Martin Ojok, a resident of Ngom Rom village in Unyama sub county in Gulu district says that the government did not sensitize the locals on the effects of the drugs and how it can be managed.

Geoffrey Oola, a boda boda operator from Laliya Ward in Bar-Dege Layibi Division says that he embraced the exercise for fear that the government may only allow people who got vaccinated to access social services. “You saw how many people who don’t have the national identity card are struggling to get services. So I thought it was important that I get vaccinated,” Ojok added.

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William Onyai, the Gulu District Health Educator revealed that they have only registered 33 cases of people presenting with mild symptoms from 2,431 already vaccinated. Margret Nanyonga, a communication consultant with the World Health Organization (WHO) says that many of the countries are battling to demystify the distorted information about COVID-19 vaccination that has flooded the social media.

She urged districts in Acholi sub region to team up with the Ministry of Health to ensure the biggest percentage of their population gets vaccinated, saying it is one of the catchment areas of the disease. Dr. Richard Ecsodu, the Director Gulu University Multifunctional Science Laboratory says the laxity in observing the standard procedures has exposed the community to a higher risk of infection.

He says that 200 out of 2,300 people tested in the University between April and May tested positive for COVID-19.