Underperforming districts in COVID-19 vaccination to forfeit vaccines

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

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health is considering retrieving vaccines from districts that have failed to utilize them.

According to the data from the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI), they are considering picking 91,000 vaccine doses from 36 districts across the country.

Some of the districts that have only used 1,000 vaccines out of the 5,000 doses that they received include; Adjumani, Amolotar, Kotidio, Bulisa, Nwoya, Kagadi, Bunyagabu, Bukwo, Kyenjojo, Sironko, Kaberamaido, Otuke and Omoro.

Dr Alfred Driwale, the UNEPI programme manager says leaving the vaccines in these underperforming districts to expire will defeat the purpose of vaccination.

It is more than two months since the vaccination exercise began. Dr Driwale says that originally, they thought by now they would no longer have any unused vaccines. With all the vaccines expected to expire in the first week of July, the health officials say something needs to be done.

If the vaccines are retrieved, they will be sent to other districts that have used almost all the vaccines that were allocated to them. Some of the best performing districts include Kampala, Rubirizi, Kanungu, Rukungiri and Bushenyi.

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Driwale adds that while retrieving vaccines is an unethical practice, they have no other choice since vaccine uptake during the first phase of vaccination will determine whether Uganda is given more vaccines or not.

Health ministry officials attribute the low uptake of vaccines in some districts to unresponsive health systems.

“The health systems have failed to respond to their people and take the vaccines to communities instead of being stationed at health facilities that might be far,” Driwale said.