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Dozens Turned Away Due to COVID-19 Vaccine Shortage At Entebbe Hospital

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Ivan Ruyonga, a health worker in one of the private facilities turned up around 3pm on Tuesday only to find the center closed. He claims that the Health ministry did not communicate effectively on the time frame for people to get their first dose.
A nurse guides Dr. Moses Muwanga, Director Entebbe Hospital as he reads the consent form before getting the jab. Photo by Joan Akello

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Dozens of people were turned away from Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital for the third day on Tuesday due to the shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital ran out of the COVID-19 vaccine last Friday prompting it to close the vaccination center at 2 pm instead of 5 pm.

The vaccination center opens between 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays. However, the center closed at 2 pm on Friday last week because only f four doses were remaining. The four doses were administered to staff of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, who arrived at the center on Monday by 7:30 am.

As a result, the center has remained closed due to the lack of vaccines. However, dozens of people including the elderly, teachers and health workers have continued turning up at the center for vaccination. Ivan Ruyonga, a health worker in one of the private facilities turned up around 3 pm on Tuesday only to find the center closed.

He claims that the Health Ministry did not communicate effectively on the time frame for people to get their first dose. 

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Herbert Muyomba, a secondary school teacher, says that it is unfortunate that he has missed out on the vaccination. "I wonder if we will even get the first dose because the health workers are also not sure," Muyomba said.  Over 3,700 people including health workers, teachers, staff of UN agencies and government institutions such as the National Medical Stores-NMS have received their first dose since March 10th when the vaccination exercise started at the facility. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the hospital received 300 doses to vaccinate those returning for their second dose in the first 10 days. The hospital used to vaccinate an average of 100 people daily. However, the highest number of people would turn up on Monday and Friday ranging between 150 and 200 people on both days. For instance, on Monday, April 26th, 187 people were vaccinated while 167 people were vaccinated on Friday, April 30th.

Last Friday, Dr. John Kalyesubula, the medical officer at Entebbe Municipal Council apologized to the people who turned up but found the center closed due to the vaccine stockouts.  At the time, he blamed the health workers at the center for not informing his office in time about the likelihood of a stock out.

“The officers are supposed to restock when they have less than 100 doses. So this was an oversight on their part and we apologize to the people who missed out. Let them return next week,” said Dr. Kalyesubula.  Some of the health workers at the center however say they requested for additional 1,000 doses but only received 500 doses on Tuesday.

The hospital gets the doses from Wakiso district headquarters. Dr. Kalyesubula says the center will remain closed for those who want to get their first jab until they receive additional doses. "It is beyond our control. We have to wait for Wakiso district to release the doses. So maybe they return next week."

The second dose is expected to be administered between May 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.

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