Gov’t to suspend COVID-19 vaccination in West Nile due to low uptake
todaySeptember 20, 2021
By Pamela Atim
Government has decried the low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in West Nile. The World Health Organization WHO defines vaccine uptake as the proportion of the eligible population who received the vaccine during a specific time. This is influenced by people’s attitude and beliefs regarding the vaccines, side effects, ease of access and capacity to mobilize people. But the government through Ministry of Health MOH has warned that the ongoing vaccination exercise will be suspended in the region if the uptake does not improve. “Vaccines were distributed to districts, but its uptake in West Nile is not satisfactory. The manufacturer gave a short life span for these vaccines. Now this is putting us under pressure to rush the exercise and yet people are not embracing it. And districts where vaccines expire we shall suspend them and vaccinate people where uptake is high like Kampala”, said Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Program Manager Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization (UNEPI). Ministry of health has named; Terego, Madi-Okollo and Nebbi among the districts in the region with the lowest uptake of the vaccines with 33.9 percent, 49.1 percent and 52.1 percent respectively. The principal health communication officer ministry of health Ronald Ocatre attributes the low uptake to negative talks within the communities. “If we had as ministry of health not rationalized and say look here let’s take these vaccines everywhere where we think we have people who definitely need it and we say no let’s take it where there is demand, and I’m telling you all these vaccines would remain in Kampala”, he said.
Misinformation Filbert Baguma the general secretary Uganda National Teachers’ Union UNATU blamed the low uptake to reported cases of serious side effects including blood clots, misinformation and poor approaches being used by the government to promote the vaccines. According to statistics, at least 61 out of the 137 districts in the country had less than 70 percent uptake, as high as 34 of the district had less than 60 percent while 11 had less than 50 percent uptake of vaccines by September 13. But Ministry of health is calling on districts to speed up proper utilization of the available doses of the vaccines at their disposal since the expiry date for the latest vaccine is September 30.
COVER PHOTO: A health worker receiving her COVID-19 jab. Health Minisry has directed all districts to utilize all their doses by end of this month before they expire. Courtesy photo.