By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has revealed that the first batch of at least 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Uganda on March 5th, 2021 and that over 21 Million Ugandans will be vaccinated.
Dr. Aceng said that vaccination will commence on March 10th, 2021.
Dr. Aceng made the announcement at a press conference held at the Ministry of Health head offices on Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement comes almost a year after Uganda recorded its first Covid-19 case.
Aceng said that in the context of global pressure on vaccine stocks, priority persons to be vaccinated is going to be guided by the occupational risks of infection, risk of developing severe disease, death from COVID-19 and population characteristics like age, gender and geographical location.
“Uganda targets to vaccinate 49.6% of the population which is about 21,936,011 people, in a phased manner. Each phase is planned to cover 20% of the population which is about 4,387,202 people. The eligible population lies in the age range of 18 years and above,” Dr. Aceng said.
The health minister said that the first phase of vaccination will focus on health workers from all public, private not for profit and private for private health centres that are estimated to be around 150,000 across the country.
“We shall also focus on Security personnel from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Police and Prisons and these are estimated to be 250, 000,” Dr. Aceng said.
She added that focus will also be put on teachers from both public and private among other essential social service providers which are estimated to be around 550,000.
The first phase of vaccination will also include persons from the age of 50 years and above and these are estimated to be at 3,348500. They will also vaccinate persons with underlying health conditions but aged below 50 years (estimated at 500,000).
Dr. Aceng said that all persons who are eligible for vaccination will be required to provide a National Identification Card in the case of Ugandan citizens or a passport in the case of non-Ugandans.
Government Health center IIIs, IVs,District Hospitals,Regional Referral,National Referral Hospitals and specialized Institutions have been designated as vaccination service points in each district and City and Dr. Aceng said that eligible persons will access their vaccines from any of these points.
She said that, “Vaccines will be given to eligible persons 8 weeks apart (56 days). However, this can be extended up to 12 weeks as recommended by WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunizations.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is given intramuscularly on the left upper arm – 0.5mls each and a team of well-trained health workers will be based at the designated service points to provide services.
Dr. Aceng said that the health ministry will roll out the vaccination program to age groups between 18 and 50 years in a staggered manner until 49.6 of all the Ugandan population is vaccinated.
Minister Aceng however said that this will be guided by the local epidemiologist in different areas of Uganda to ensure that the disease is defeated.