The ministry of Health has disputed claims that Ugandans will have to pay for COVID-19 vaccination starting January next year.
The ministry’s response follow a warning issued by Kampala City Resident Commissioner (RCC), Hudu Hussein, that the free COVID-19 vaccination program from government will cease this year and those seeking for the service will have to pay.
In a video clip which has since gone viral, Hussein says next year, Ugandans will have to part with at least One million Uganda shillings or more to get vaccinated because free vaccines from government will be no more.
“Next year there will be no free vaccination. Next year, you will look for vaccines and you may not find them because; even those who are giving us vaccines will know that we will have achieved our target which was 4.8 million Ugandans which we have now achieved” Mr Hussein said.
However, the Permanent Secretary MOH Dr Diana Atwine disputed the RCC’s comments saying the ministry of health has not made such a decision nor a statement. Dr Atwine said all the vaccines in the country are free and no one is supposed to pay for vaccination.
“We have heard the comments attributable to the RCC but as ministry of health, currently, the vaccines for COVID-19 and all other diseases are supposed to be free” Dr Atwine said.
The RDC/RCC is a representative of the president in the District and a member of the District COVID-19 prevention Taskforce and whose office is supervised by the office of the president.
In his remarks, Mr Hussein said that by next year, the COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be available in government stores but only in private health facilities where they will be accessed at a high cost. His remarks also imply that after achieving the new target of 7 million Ugandans, government will no longer be bothered and whoever dies of coronavirus then, it will be treated as negligence.
“Our target was 4.8million Ugandans which we have now achieved and extended it to 7 million and we are soon achieving it. Once we achieve that, these Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, they will not be here.” Hussein said adding; “Whoever will die of corona as a result of not being vaccinated, it will be negligence on his part because the president has talked and we have talked. What have we not told you about the value of vaccination?”
Uganda’s ministry of health has so far administered about 5.5 million covid-19 vaccines to the country’s 23 million people initially targeted in the vaccination campaign which started in March this year, partly because of uneasy access to vaccines and population hesitancy. However, the country recently acquired vaccines and the population has registered a good uptake of vaccines.
With this new trend, the initial target of 4.8million people has been extended to 7million before the end of the year. However, a spot check on COVID-19 vaccination centers conducted by our reporter in Kampala showed a high turn-up of people but also inadequate manpower to administer the vaccines was noted. Long queues were visible at Makerere University Hospital and Lubaga Hospital both in Kampala city.
Dr Atwine says every eligible Ugandan should come forward and get the covid jab owing to a global trend where countries which initially experienced the pandemic are registering a surge of coronavirus infections.
She says, however, although these countries are recording high infection rates, they have recorded few cases that require hospitalization. “The earlier we vaccinate, the better; so that when the infection comes, it finds bodies that are prepared and wont suffer severe disease” Dr Atwine noted.
“We are calling everyone who is still reluctant that when the infection comes, it might be worse. We are saying; come running, go and vaccinated” She said.