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Uganda rolls out 2nd Covid-19 jabs

A nurse vaccinating a man against coronavirus in Kabale recently

A nurse vaccinating a man against coronavirus in Kabale recently

Vaccination shields “all people at risk” from getting any virus or disease. Vaccination has been used widely over the years to shield people from measles, polio and whooping cough, among others. All this starts from just a few weeks old.

But that aside, we now have Covid-19. In Uganda, Covid-19 vaccinations began on March 10, 2021 after the country got over 946,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The campaign got off to a slow start as Ugandan skepticism over the vaccine efficacy was reinforced by swirling reports at the time, of the vaccine causing blood clots in some people.

According to data from the ministry of Health, 472,617 people have so far received the first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine in Uganda as of May 18, 2021. Now that this is almost half the number of the total doses the country received, the ministry has now started administering the second jab to all those who received the first dose about eight to 12 weeks ago.

Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa and the former Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah are some of the high-profile people who have received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

With only less than half a million people vaccinated, it looks like it will take some time for everything to go back to normal. Speaking to the press last Friday at the ministry of Health, the current minister for Health and the newly elected member of parliament for Lira District Jane Ruth Aceng, said that some frequent travellers in the country have already received their second dose before the official launch on May 21.

“We have opened up for the second dose to all those who received the first dose and have at least completed more than eight weeks. World Health Organization (WHO) guides on between eight and 12 weeks as the best time [to receive the second shot],” Aceng said in Kampala.

She said the second shot shall be given by 12 weeks because the efficacy of the vaccine is higher when receipt of the second dose is delayed.

“The ministry of Health, therefore, advises all those who are due for their second dose of the vaccine to wait for the 12-week period from the time of receipt of the firstt dose,” she said on May 5.

Asked why the second dose is between eight and 12 weeks and not by 12 weeks as earlier communicated, Dr Aceng maintained that she had earlier talked of between eight and 12 weeks as the recommended time.

“I urge people to come for the vaccination. The vaccine uptake in the country is very good in the central and southern part of the country but in the northern and eastern parts, the uptake is still low,” she added. We should note that the vaccination of Covid-19 started on March 10, 2021 when the government received 864,000 doses of the vaccine.

According to Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the WHO country representative, available evidence shows that mixing AstraZeneca with Pfizer is safe, but that government is still reviewing the data. Government plans to import Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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