Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |
As the Health Ministry commences the COVID-19 vaccination targeting key people, experts have advised Ugandans not to be alarmed if they experience some adverse effects after immunization.
The Health Ministry is expected to kick start the COVID-19 vaccination campaign using the AstraZeneca vaccine at Mulago National Specialised Hospital before spreading the exercise to other health facilities across the country.
Dr. Monica Musenero, the Presidential Advisor on epidemics says vaccination comes with some effects such as a fever, heaviness of the hand and pain. She says these are a good sign that the vaccine is actually working.
She encourages those that will experience pain to use simple pain killers such as Panadol. AstraZeneca vaccine, which the government is going to use, has generated concern in a number of countries including South Africa where vaccination was halted when it was noticed that the drug wasn’t effective. On Sunday, the Austrian government halted the use of AstraZeneca vaccine after one person died and another got sick after vaccination.
The Austrian authorities said they were still investigating the two cases, according to a report by Reuter’s news agency. When asked about this, the Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said it’s not unheard of that coagulation disorders happen after receiving any vaccine including the usual ones on the routine immunization schedule. She also said there is confirmation that the problems the two individuals got actually resulted from immunization.
Aceng says the decision to halt the vaccination of Austria shows how cautious authorities around the world are about this quickly developed vaccine and recently attained emergency use approval from the World Health Organization. Even here, she assured Ugandans that everything is under control and adverse events monitoring committee has been set up to speedily detect anything that could happen unexpectedly.
On her part, Musenero who was addressing members of the Health Journalists’ Network (HEJNU) said that the South African and Austria incidents shouldn’t keep people away from the shots as already the issues earlier raised have been sorted.
She explains, for the South African case, initially the drug had been made to work against the Wuhan COVID-19 strain but the pharmaceutical company has since made updates and designed a vaccine that’s effective for a number of strains. Vaccination starts with a few health workers at Mulago National and Entebbe Regional Referral hospitals.
Between March 11th and 15th when the full blown mass immunization will be conducted, the Ministry hopes to vaccinate 150,000 health workers from both government and private hospitals. The exercise will take place at all public health units from Health Center IIIs to hospitals across the country.