Catherine Russell, the UNICEF Executive Director predicts that if immunization coverage continues to decline at the rate it currently is due to COVID-19, other outbreaks of immunizable disease will be recorded.
According to a Ministry of health survey carried out prior to the start of the campaign, only 24,000 cold chain carriers were available in the country. This means that about 56,000 out of the 80,000 teams deployed to conduct the polio vaccination exercise nationwide didn’t get the carriers, which are used to safely carry the vaccines.
The first phase of the vaccination targeting health workers, teachers, security personnel, the elderly, and persons above the age of 50 was budgeted to cost Shillings 1.3 trillion. The second phase that is still ongoing and targets communities reporting high infections is budgeted to cost Shillings 46 billion.
The call comes following the arrival of 647,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at time when many Ugandans who received the first jab are waiting to receive their second jab. Preliminary records from the health ministry show that over 150,000 people are due for their second dose
According to health experts, the reported deaths of already vaccinated personnel does not prove that the vaccine is ineffective, but rather that more people need to get vaccinated so that herd immunity can be built. So far at only 3.3 per cent of the targeted 26.7 million people have received one jab, yet the country needs to vaccinate at least 65 per cent of its population.
All those who have received two doses of the vaccine were among the first people vaccinated in the country. According to records from the health ministry, these persons where vaccinated between March 10 and April 3,2021.Getting two doses of the vaccines means that these persons now have 100 protection against the disease. When infected, they will not get severe forms of the disease. They will also not be hospitalised.
"In April I went to Mulago, Victoria Hospital and even KCCA Kisenyi hoping to get vaccinated but no place would give me the vaccine. They all said that I was not among those designated to get the vaccine in the first phase of the exercise," he said.
The consignment from the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility was initially expected in May, but the Serum Institute of India, the source for Uganda’s COVID-19 jab announced that it was halting vaccine exports to first, serve their domestic market in India, where infections were soaring.
Aceng also listed the fifteen best performing districts with Rukungiri topping the list followed by Kanungu and Hoima. Rukiga, Tororo, Bushenyi, Masaka, Mukono, Pakwach and Jinja as the top ten districts. Kampala came in 14th place performing worse than hard to reach districts of Kalangala, Bukedea and Namisindwa.
Health ministry officials have been forced to change the original plan of vaccination to increase uptake of the vaccine. Originally, vaccination was supposed to start with health workers, teachers, security personnel, persons with co-morbidities and those aged 50 and above
According to the health ministry, on average vaccines worth Ugx 6.5 billion are wasted annually during routine immunization. However, with a shortage of funds and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, health workers are being advised to open vaccine vials once a minimum of 10 people have registered for vaccination
As government continues to popularize the HPV shot for girls aged 9-11 years, medics say 96 percent of the population is not aware that males too need to get the Human Papilloma Vaccine (HPV) which protects them from acquiring the virus and passing it on females they are sexually involved with.
In addition to this, 90 per cent of women identified with cervical will receive treatment by 2050. According to the WHO, investing in the above interventions can generate substantial economic and societal returns. It is estimated that if governments invest, they could make returns as high as three dollars for every dollar spent.
According to the Ministry of Health figures, the deaths recorded last year showed an increase of over 100 per cent. In 2018, the number of deaths recorded in the country stood at 80 but that figure in 2019 went up to 160 deaths by the end of November.
The Ministry of Health says that it now needs an additional 18 billion Shillings to implement previously planned for projects like the mass mosquito net distribution campaign and a yellow fever vaccination. The distribution of mosquito nets was previously budgeted at 447 billion while yellow fever vaccination was planned at 3.8 billion Shillings.
So far, USD 27.6 million has been mobilized and used to vaccinate more than 18 million children under 5 years in DRC. However, in some areas, routine vaccination coverage remains low and 25 per cent of the reported measles cases come from such areas. Previous immunization campaigns have been targeting children under the age of five who are most affected by the disease.
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Its symptoms include; fevers, sore throat and a rash that starts from the head and spreads to other parts of the body. It is estimated that the disease is the leading cause of deaf-blindness.