Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health had set to have vaccinated 22 million people against COVID-19 by end of March, but now two weeks to that deadline, officials admit it is unachievable.
Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, the COVID-19 incident commander in the ministry, revealed to this publication that they have vaccine stocks of up to 44 million doses which would be enough for the targeted population but have only managed to fully vaccinate nine million people so far.
Even with the slow turnout, the ministry has continued receiving vaccine donations which creates worries that the country might start recording expiries. For instance, Kyabayinze says the latest donation is of 2.9 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines which just came in from Spain and more are expected in due course, especially now that they plan to vaccinate school-going children in the next school term.
He says they had also planned to start enforcing punitive measures against those that abstain from immunization as a way of driving vaccinations, however he adds they can’t do that yet, with only a few people turning up at vaccination centers.
He attributes the low numbers to complacency that came with the decline in numbers of people getting newly infected as sections of people think the virus has now been defeated.
In terms of figures, according to the latest results by the ministry, 17.1 million doses of the vaccine had been administered by Monday whereby 14 million have received only their first dose whereas 27,000 people have gone back for booster doses.
Kyabayinze says they plan to reignite mass immunization campaigns across the country like what was done in November and December before they slowed down to allow health workers engage in the mass polio campaign in January.
He reports that regional campaigns started on Friday to first use vaccines that are near expiry before using Johnson and Johnson which has a longer shelf life of up to two years.
In total, Uganda has received 14.9 million doses of J&J which are the largest batches followed by Pfizer/BioNtech vaccines which are 11.7 million doses.