Kampala, Uganda | URN | Uganda has received an additional 175,200 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the French government through the COVAX facility.
The vaccines arrived in the country on Wednesday 16th, June 2021 night aboard KLM Airlines.
A team of officials from the Ministry of Health and National Medical Stores (NMS) received the vaccines at Entebbe International Airport. Sheila Nduhukire, the NMS spokesperson said their trucks picked the vaccines from the airport for safe storage.
“The vaccines are now in the safe hands of NMS and security. Doses will be stored for onward distribution across the country,” she said. The ministry of health is expected to communicate later today how the doses will be distributed and the targeted recipients.
The vaccines come at a time the country is grappling with a surging number of COVID-19 cases, with a daily average of 1,000 cases and over 65 deaths recorded in the last two weeks. The new doses bring to 1,139,200, the number of COVID-19 doses received in the country.
The first two batches, totaling 964,000 doses arrived in the country in March and are expected to expire by July 10th, 2021. By June 13th, over 800,000 people including health workers, teachers, security personnel, airport staff, the elderly and people with diabetes, hypertension and other underlying conditions had been vaccinated.
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Last week, the health ministry revealed that 14,460 COVID-19 vaccine doses went to waste because they were opened and not used. Scientists say vaccines lose their potency and effectiveness if they are exposed to temperatures outside the required range.
This implies that once a vial’s seal is punctured, workers have only six hours within which to administer the vaccine. Each vial can vaccinate 10 to 12 people. Catherine Makumbi Ntabadde, the UNICEF country communication specialist says Uganda is expected to receive another batch of 688,000 vaccine doses in August.
She noted that these doses will be administered to people who will be getting their second jab. Uganda gave UNICEF US$11 million, about Shillings 38 billion to procure COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, with the aim of vaccinating 21 million people in a phased manner.