Entebbe hospital halts COVID-19 vaccination due to vaccine stock out

Teachers, frontline workers in Uganda being compelled to mandatory COVID-19 jabs
The COVID-19 vaccine in Uganda has been available in a phased manner from March 2021 starting with priority groups most at risk of COVID-19 infection. COURTESY PHOTO/MoH Uganda/2021

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital has suspended the vaccination exercise for people who want to take the first and second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine after it run out of doses three days ago.

The hospital gets the doses from Wakiso district headquarters.

Muhammad Mubiru, the Principal Hospital Administrator says Wakiso district headquarters has run out of doses. As a result, Entebbe Hospital where 100 to 150 people are vaccinated daily is unable to re-stock. Since Tuesday 25th, May 2021, dozens of people including the elderly, airline staff and teachers have been turned away from the hospital due to the vaccine stock out.

He however says the hospital has requested for 20,000 doses from Wakiso district through the National Medical Stores (NMS). “We need these doses because the Ministry of Health has opened up the vaccination to all those aged 18 years and above and the hospital serves over 3 million people,” added Mubiru.

“As soon as we receive these doses, we will resume the vaccination exercise,” Mubiru says.

By end of April 2021, over 3,700 people had received their first jab at the hospital. Of these, Mubiru says over 3,000 are expected to return for their second jab before end of next month.

The second dose is expected to be administered between June 5th to June 28th at Entebbe Hospital. Uganda has so far received 964,000 COVID-19 doses. The doses are expected to expire by July 10th, 2021.

The vaccine shortage at the hospital comes at a time the health ministry is withdrawing over 90,000 unused COVID-19 doses from ten districts. The doses will be got from Adjumani, Amolata, Kotido, Bulisa, Nwoya, Kyenjojo, Sironko, Kaberamaido, Otuke and Omoro. The ministry justified the move saying most of these districts had failed to vaccinate over 1,000 people since March 2021 when the exercise was rolled out.

By May 18, only 356,900 vaccines had been used by districts out of 653,440 that were distributed.

As a result, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General Health Services says the National Medical Stores (NMS) accompanied by district COVID-19 task forces will regain the vaccines

Mathias Lugolobi, the Wakiso District Health Officer (DHO) says most of the 52 immunization centres including Entebbe Hospital have run out of doses. However, he advises those who live along Kampala-Entebbe or are being turned away from Entebbe Hospital to visit Kajjansi Health Centre IV, Kisubi Hospital and Doctors Hospital, Seguku because they still have some doses.

He says the rest of the centres will have to wait until the district receives more doses from NMS.

In the last three months, Lugolobi says the district has vaccinated over 39,000 people out of a total stock of 41,000 doses distributed. Of those vaccinated, 5,000 are due for their second dose. “We hope we can get more doses by next week,” he added.

He notes that the district will ration the additional doses, but will ensure Entebbe Hospital is able to meet the high demand from the general public.

“Entebbe Hospital has been receiving a big number of people from within and outside the municipality. So we will take into consideration that the hospital has a high consumption rate of the vaccine doses.”

The hospital has recorded a high turn up rate from health workers, teachers, staff from UN, NMS, ministries of energy and agriculture and also Entebbe airport staff.  There are over 2,000 airport staff.

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Some of the people who turned up on Thursday 27, May 2021 for vaccination were disappointed when they were turned away from the main entrance of the hospital due to COVID-19 vaccine stock out. One of them, Loy Nakalema says she had traveled from Kigungu to receive her first jab.

“This is not good because I am going to spend twenty thousand shillings on transport to and from Kigungu yet I have not been vaccinated,” says Nakalema.

Olga Namulindwa, a resident of Kitooro says the hospital management should have communicated that the immunization centre is currently closed due to vaccine stock out.

“Otherwise, people will keep coming to the hospital when there are no doses,” Namulindwa says.