Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | President Yoweri Museveni finally made up his mind and got vaccinated for COVID-19 on Saturday at State House Nakasero. He joins world leaders like Joe Biden, Uhuru Kenyatta and Paul Kagame who have been vaccinated.
“First Ladyand I got our Covid-19 vaccine today in Nakasero. I encourage all Ugandans who qualify for this vaccination to go to health facilities and get it. But remember to keep observing the SoPs; wear masks, wash, sanitise hands and observe social distance,” he said after he had got the jab.
President Museveni had early this month said he was undecided on which, of the COVID-19 vaccines, he will use to protect himself against coronavirus. The 75-year-old President had said then that his ‘people’ are still studying, which of the vaccines will be effective for him.
“First of all, I am quiet careful and well protected by the system here. Secondly, I am also looking at which of the vaccines should I go for… Johnson & Johnson, the Chinese, the Russian? Ours, a Ugandan one, will also come later, but maybe it will be used in the future,” Museveni said, as he explained.
His remarks follow the commencement of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the country using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
In most African countries and others around the world, top leaders have been among the first people to receive the COVID-19 jab to give confidence to the population amid the several fears, myths, and misconceptions surrounding the vaccine.
Museveni action ends rumours of early vaccination
Today’s events draw a shadow to reports that Museveni had received the jab, long before Uganda received its consignment of vaccines from COVAX, an initiative that was set yo by WHO, GAVI-the vaccine alliance and other players to ensure that there is equitable distribution in both rich and poor countries.
The report first published in the Wall Street Journal indicated that members of Museveni’s inner circle were offered vaccines from China state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm. The report indicated that the practice master-minded by the Chinese government was meant to promote their vaccines. Leaders from Peru and the Phillippines were also reported to have secretly taken the jab at a time when it was still undergoing clinical trial.
Museveni dismissed the report and sued Monitor Publications, for republishing the Wall Street Journal report. Through the lawsuit, filed before the High Court in Kampala, Musevni’s lawyers said that the article was intentionally reckless, malicious and published without due care and presented him as having engaged in the dishonest activities of influence peddling, nepotism, scheming and conspiracy.
They added that the article also portrayed Museveni as having abdicated his duties and obligations to frontline workers fighting COVID-19, and other groups that were vulnerable to the pandemic. Ugandans had also questioned Museveni’s delay in taking the jab, despite being hailed for his contribution to the fight against the spread of COVID-19. This’s after Museveni told the country in a national address that the first family was still undecided on which COVID-19 vaccines to use.
A number of Ugandans said that waited patiently to see if the president would publicly get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as has been in other countries such as Rwanda, South Africa to instil public confidence and assurance about the safety of the vaccine amidst fears and myths and misconceptions surrounding the vaccines. Uganda has only received one type of vaccines.
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.
But reviews by the World Health Organisation have found that the available data does not show a link between the increase in clotting condition such as deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and the vaccine.
Today, after taking his jab, President Museveni reminded the public to keep observing the Standard Operating Procedures for keeping coronavirus at bay. These include wearing face masks, washing hands, sanitising hands and observing a safe distance from other personnel.