President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said he and his family are yet to get vaccinated against the coronavirus because they are still undecided on which COVID-19 vaccines to use.
Museveni disclosed this during a televised nation address on Sunday.
The 75-year-old has come under the spotlight after he previously disputed media reports that he’d been secretly vaccinated long before the vaccines arrived in the country.
The country waited patiently last week to see if the president would publicly get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the Ministry of Health rolled out mass vaccination campaign on March 10, at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
Instead, it was the Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng and the permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine who volunteered to take the first COVID-19 jabs in the country.
While other leaders in other countries such as Rwanda, South Africa took the lead in building confidence in the newly developed vaccine, Museveni said he and his family are well cushioned and protected from the virus by the system and that his people are still studying which vaccine will be more effective for him.
Museveni also said he has decided to delay his vaccination so as to give health workers who are at high risk the first chance.
“Janet and I did not get vaccinated because we wanted to give priority to health workers who are more at risk,” he said.
The government resolved that the first batch of vaccines would go to people at most risk of contracting the virus including health workers, teachers and security officers. According to the Health ministry, over 1,215 people mostly health workers have so far received the COVID-19 jab.
The ministry says it selected AstraZeneca because it is cheaper compared to other vaccines and can easily be stored. Each vaccine jab costs $4 and the vaccine needs to be stored between 2 and 8 degrees celsius whereas the other vaccines need negative temperatures which require special storage facilities.
Although Museveni is still undecided on which vaccine to use for himself, he says that the government has intensified efforts to support local scientists to develop a home-made remedy against coronavirus. The initiative involving a locally-made drug is still undergoing efficacy trials at Mulago Hospital. Museveni said the drug is showing advanced effectiveness against COVID-19.
He however stated that government will procure more of Oxford/AstraZeneca from India. The country had ordered 18 million doses of the vaccine. The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has however sparked debate elsewhere.
Several countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda’s neighbour in the West, have suspended the use of the vaccine as a precautionary measure or banned its use after recording adverse reactions among some users. In some countries, some people are claimed to have developed clots after using the vaccines. Museveni said that a year after COVID-19 broke out in the country; Uganda seems to be doing fairly well as far as battling the virus is concerned.
Available statistics indicate that 40,581 people have been infected by the deadly virus in Uganda, of which 12,313 people have recovered while 334 others succumbed to the disease. Only 24 people are still admitted to hospitals with the coronavirus.