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Uganda: Govt Relaxes Age Group for Coronavirus Vaccination

People aged 50 and above, as well as those with comorbidities aged above 18 have been included on the Covid-19 vaccination priority list.

While speaking at a public engagement on the Covid-19 vaccination exercise on Tuesday, Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), said the Ministry of Health decided to accelerate the uptake of the vaccines by widening the priority list for more coverage ahead of the anticipated second wave of the pandemic.

“The vaccines are scarce and costly thus the need to prioritise people, who get to have first access. This is driven by factors like the risk of infection, developing severe disease and death,” Dr Driwale said.

He also said the Health ministry has revised some of the procedures that were required before vaccination, which were affecting the process such as suspension of pre-registration.

This means that registration will be done at delivery point provided one identifies themselves with a credible document of identification like the national identification card.

“We encourage health workers to vaccinate people when the vaccinse are still available. However, if turned away, bear with us,” Dr Driwale said.

Government rolled out vaccinations for health workers, teachers and eople aged 70 and above on March 10.

The Ministry of Health said the vaccination process is gaining momentum despite a slow start to the exercise.

As of yesterday, at least 80,836 people had been vaccinated.

Uganda needs at least 45 million doses of vaccines for a population of about 22 million and extra doses to cater for refugees.

Currently, only one jab is being administered with the second dose expected in May and June, according to Ministry of Health.

Variants

Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), said Uganda has so far registered variants such as A23, A.23.1, South African variant, and Nigerian variant.

Some health experts warned that the variants might compromise the effectiveness of the vaccine.

However, Prof Kaleebu said for now, the major variants in the country do not have an effect on the AstraZeneca vaccine though more studies are being carried and the institution will keep watching and carrying out surveillance.

World Health Organisation has reiterated that the vaccine is safe and those eligible should go for vaccination.

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