The initial batch of 864,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in Uganda, with distribution set to begin on March 10 according to the health ministry.
On Friday, March 5, 2021, Uganda welcomed the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX worldwide, with distribution set to begin on March 10.
The Ministry of Health received 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, which was shipped via the world’s most convenient COVAX facility for global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The first batch marks a historic step towards the goal of ensuring an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in an unprecedented effort to provide at least 2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
Uganda aims to vaccinate 49.6 per cent. The population, which is about 21,936,011, is a phase. Each phase is planned to cover 20 per cent of the population – about 4.38 million people.
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The vaccine was welcomed by Ugandan Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng along with members of the COVAX Facility and EU ambassadors and countries that have funded production, transportation and distribution.
COVAX works in conjunction with UNICEF as a key operational partner in accelerating access to COVID-19 equipment (ACT), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi-Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO).
UNICEF handles the procurement and supply of Covax vaccines and related products on behalf of the facility.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), was shipped to Uganda by UNICEF from Mumbai, India.
The COVAX facility has assigned 3,552,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to Uganda between January and June 2021. The remaining 2,688,000 levels are expected by June 2021.
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The first phase of the free vaccination will target health workers in public and private health facilities, who are at higher risk of contracting the disease compared to other types of people due to the nature of their work.
Other target groups in order of priority are security personnel; teachers; Humanitarian front line workers, those over 50 with basic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, kidney or liver disease; 18-50-year-olds with the same basic conditions; And other high-risk and priority essential groups that are growing as more vaccine doses come into the country.
“Preparations for vaccination against COVID-19 are being finalized by the Ministry of Health, and with the arrival of 864,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines today, the vaccination is scheduled to begin on March 10, 2021,” Dr Aceng said.
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“Since the outbreak of this unprecedented crisis 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 play a key role in managing COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda. With their vital role, dealing with patients at high risk of contracting the disease, we thought it would be wise to work with teachers to vaccinate first to protect them,” said Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, a representative of the World Health Organization in Uganda.
“We would especially like to thank the donor partners, including the European Union, the UK Government, and the United States for their support for COVAX through GAVI,” he said.
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 vaccines are provided- to the people who need them the most.”
“If we do not protect health care providers, health systems will be overcrowded and the most vulnerable children will continue to lose access to life-saving services, jeopardizing many years of progress, and as a result, poorer children will be left behind. The sooner we can fight the epidemic, the sooner Uganda can recover,” he said.
”It will lead to the reopening of health facilities and the end of serious disruptions in the lives of children, ”Safieldin noted.
The main objective of the National Deployment Vaccine Program (NDVP) is to vaccinate up to 49.6% of the population in a single phase. Each phase aims to cover 20% of the population. The eligible population includes persons 18 years of age and older.