The government has said mass vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 against Covid-19 will start on August 22 to contain the pandemic and guarantee continuity of learning.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Michael Baganizi, the deputy manager of the Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunisation (UNEPI), said: “More than 1.2 million children in that age bracket have so far been vaccinated. The target is 6.6 million. Children who received the vaccines are those who were in the village, those who came with their parents for vaccination or their parents authorised health workers to vaccinate them.”
He added: “This new drive, which runs from August 22 to September 3, is to give children who were in boarding school the opportunity to be vaccinated. They were not vaccinated because they couldn’t access their parents.”
However, some parents and activists have raised concern over the safety of the vaccines, with some saying the risks of the adverse reactions after vaccination outweigh the benefits. But the Ministry of Health said the argument is false, malicious and lacking in substance.
A senior official at the Ministry of Health said the interest of parents in vaccination is low.
Prof David Serwadda, the head of the government vaccine advisory committee, said the initial campaign prioritised adults (18 years and above) because vaccines were scarce.
“We will be using Pfizer which has been approved for use in children and we have enough vaccines,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has so far acquired 11.7 million doses of Pfizer but the ministry couldn’t provide the exact number of doses that are currently in stock as some were used already.
The government in June banned the vaccination of children in schools and advised parents who are interested in vaccinating their children to take them to hospitals and other designated centres.
Dr Joyce Kaducu, the State Minister for Education, said parents, guardians or sponsors must consent for a child to be vaccinated. She said this process means no vaccination should take place in school.
This directive came after complaints from parents that their children were being vaccinated in schools without their consent.
Last month, Members of Parliament voted against the mandatory vaccination of children that the government had proposed.