A total of 7,920 Ugandans have so far received their 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 663,520 doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 Vaccines have been distributed to all districts in the country for Health workers, teachers and people above 70 years.
According to a joint press statement signed by the health minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng and the WHO Country Representative Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, the vaccination exercise started on a slow pace, due to logistical and technological challenges in some districts that are continuously being addressed. Presently, vaccination of health workers in all districts is progressing smoothly.
Dr. Aceng noted that vaccination of both health workers and teachers/lecturers will now take place concurrently, in order to serve these two priority categories as planned and also catch up on lost time.
She added that while people aged 50 years and above remain a priority for COVID-19 Vaccination, their estimated number is 3,348,500. Currently, Uganda has only 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which is inadequate to cover this population subgroup. In addition, of the available doses, 700,000 doses are for the health workers and teachers.
“The Ministry of Health has therefore decided to begin vaccinating people 70 years and above against COVID-19. As more doses of the vaccine arrive in the country, all those who are aged 50 years and above will be scheduled for vaccination. The schedules for other priority groups will be communicated by the Ministry of Health and the District Health Offices from time to time. This is therefore to call upon all those 70 years and above to report to the health facilities and get their COVID-19 vaccine” the minister announced.
The Ministry of Health and WHO also clarified on the alleged side effects of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine that have appeared in local and international media as well as social media platforms.
“It is true that as a precautionary measure, a few countries especially in the European Union have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine (AZ Vaccine) while full investigations are undertaken. The concern is over a few cases of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) events that have been reported in some countries. As of 10th March 2021, 30 cases of DVT were reported to WHO among 5 million vaccinated cases in the European Region. While research is on going to establish the relationship between DVT and the AstraZeneca vaccine, some studies show that genetic risk factors are common in certain European populations and this could be attributed to DVT. However, this is not conclusive” part of the statement reads.
The duo noted that the number of suspected thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is NOT higher than what is seen in the general population and that there is no evidence to state that the incidents of DVT and other thromboembolic events are caused by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. It is important to note that thromboembolic events have NOT been experienced by any of the vaccinated individuals in Uganda.
“Uganda, like other countries in Africa and Asia is using the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. To date, there are no reports of serious adverse events or deaths related to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in these countries. Similarly, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered to more than 11 million people in the United Kingdom with no evidence of related serious adverse events.”
The Ministry of Health, together with WHO are keenly following these investigations and as soon as scientific evidence surrounding this issue is available, the public will be promptly informed. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is effective 3 weeks after an individual has received the 1st dose.