• Sep 22, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • Health ministry to deploy 1.6m doses of Pfizer vaccine in Kampala

Health ministry to deploy 1.6m doses of Pfizer vaccine in Kampala
Betty Amamukirori
Journalist @New Vision

The 1,647,270 doses of Pfizer donated to Uganda by the United States of America will be used in the greater Kampala metropolitan area, Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), has said.

He noted that the vaccine will be used to immunise Uganda’s vulnerable population, which was categorised under phase one, against COVID-19. These include persons above 50 years of age, those above 18 years, but with comorbidities, security personnel, medical workers and teachers.

“We want to avoid the mistake of mixing many vaccines. So, we are making preparations to ensure that starting next week we deploy this new vaccine in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono,” he said.

Dr Diana Atwiine, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the choice of Kampala is because upcountry districts do not have the cold chain storage system required for the Pfizer vaccine.

They were speaking at Entebbe International Airport, where the Ministry of Health and National Medical Stores (NMS) were receiving a consignment of the Pfizer vaccine donated by the American government.

Driwale warned Ugandans against mixing vaccines, noting that once one starts with a particular vaccine type, they should complete with it. In its vaccination drive, Uganda has so far used the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines.

The 1.6 million doses are part of the 500 million Pfizer doses the US has provided to 92 countries worldwide, in fulfilment of President Joe Biden’s commitment to providing safe and effective vaccines around the world.

The donation becomes the first largest Uganda has ever received in its fight against COVID-19. In addition to the 647,080 doses of the Moderna vaccine the US donated to Uganda in September 6, the total becomes 2,321,350 doses of vaccines bilaterally donated to Uganda by the Americans.

“These vaccines are safe and highly effective. They are one of the most important tools we have in reducing the risk of COVID-19, including serious illness and death and are essential in bringing this pandemic to an end,” Natalie Brown, the US Ambassador to Uganda, said.

Vaccine hesitancy

Dr Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, noted that it is every person’s responsibility to fight the pandemic and urged Uganda to ensure that all vulnerable persons get vaccinated.

Atwine noted that the country still faces vaccine hesitancy and said the ministry would conduct a special campaign in Kampala to increase the uptake of the vaccines.

Moses Kamabare, the general manager of NMS, said they have enough cold chain storage for the vaccines. Pfizer vaccines require cold storage of minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Vaccination of children

Regarding the vaccination of school-going children, he said: “Right now our focus is on those categorised in phase one. Then we shall move to phase two, those 50 years and below, and then we will go to the children.”

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