Uganda receives 864,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines
KAMPALA- Friday, 6 March 2021– The Ministry of Health has today received 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX facility—the world’s facility for universal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The arrival marks a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in an unprecedented effort to provide at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. Uganda targets to vaccinate 49.6 per cent of the population, which is about 21,936,011, in a phased manner. Each phase is planned to cover 20 per cent of the population – approximately 4.38 million people.
The vaccine doses were received at Entebbe International Airport by Uganda’s Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero accompanied by members of the COVAX Facility and ambassadors of the European Union and countries whose funding enabled manufacturing, transport, and distribution.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi - the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner. UNICEF is handling the procurement and delivery of the vaccines and related supplies on behalf of the COVAX Facility.
The AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) were transported by UNICEF from India (Mumbai) to Uganda.
The COVAX facility has allocated 3,552,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Uganda for the period of January – June 2021. The remaining 2,688,000 doses are expected by June 2021.
The first phase of the FREE vaccination will target health workers in public and private health facilities who by the nature of their work are at higher risk of contracting the disease compared to other categories of people. Other target groups in order of priority are security personnel; teachers; humanitarian front-line workers, people above 50 years with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart, kidney, or liver disease; people aged 18-50 with the same underlying conditions; and other emerging high risk and priority essential groups as more vaccine doses arrive in the country.
“The Ministry of Health is finalizing preparations to start vaccination against COVID-19 and with the arrival of the initial batch of 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines today, vaccination is scheduled to begin on 10 March 2021,” Dr Aceng said.
“The arrival of the vaccines in Uganda is a significant moment and a concrete example of global solidarity in action,” said EU Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Attilio Pacifici. “Ever since the outbreak of this unprecedented crisis, which is affecting all of us, the European Union and its Member States have supported Uganda and our other African partners in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Health care providers have been pivotal in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda. With their crucial role, dealing with patients comes the high risk of being infected with the disease. We, therefore, thought it wise to have them immunized first along with teachers to protect them,” said the WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam.
“We especially want to thank the donor partners including the European Union, the UK Government, The United States of America and others for the support they made to COVAX through GAVI to make this possible,” he added.
UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Dr. Munir Safieldin said, “Today marks an important milestone for Uganda. UNICEF is pleased to be a key partner in the COVAX Facility by ensuring that the vaccines are delivered– to the people that need them most.”
“Unless we protect health care providers, health systems will remain overwhelmed, and the most vulnerable children will continue to lose access to life-saving services, risking years of progress and resulting in the poorest children falling further behind. The faster we can combat the pandemic, the faster Uganda can recover, leading to schools re-opening, health centers functioning and ensuring that serious disruptions to children’s lives end,” Safieldin underlined.
The main objective of the National Deployment Vaccination Plan (NDVP) is to vaccinate up to 49.6% per cent of the population in a phased manner. Each phase is intended to cover 20% of the population. The eligible population comprises of individuals 18 years and above.
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