Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Prisons Services has less than 100 COVID-19 vaccine doses left amidst very high demand by the personnel and prison communities to get vaccinated.
Frank Baine, public relations officer of Uganda prisons says the security agency received 10,000 doses and over 9,900 have been consumed. This translates to an uptake of 99 percent, much higher than elsewhere in the country.
According to the Ministry of health, 276,306 people have been vaccinated out of the total national stock of 964,000 vaccine doses.
While vaccination commenced on March 10, at Mulago National Specialised Hospital and Entebbe Regional Hospital and other centres, the exercise kicked off on March 23 at the prisons headquarters and some of the prisons in the country. There are 12,000 prison personnel deployed in the 260 prisons across the country.
Baine told Uganda Radio Network-URN that the majority of prison staff have embraced the vaccination exercise. He says that the vaccine is safe because vaccinated personnel, including himself have not reported any significant side effects.
Since the initial stock of 10,000 doses will result in 2,000 personnel missing out, Baine says the ministry of health should allocate the prisons services more doses. He says the extra doses for prisons personnel should be got from those targeted areas whose individuals such as teachers and medics have shunned the exercise. For instance, the education ministry says over 99% of all the teachers registered across the country to receive the Covid-19 vaccine have shunned the exercise. It noted that only 7,000 of the 550,000 teachers have received the jab.
As such, Baine says the health ministry should add Uganda Prisons more doses because of the high demand in the agency.
Recently, Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the health ministry noted that facilities and institutions that need more doses can make requests and they will be given. The ministry continues to urge the targeted groups such as teachers, health workers, security personnel and those with underlying conditions namely hypertension, diabetes, kidney, heart and liver disease to embrace vaccination.
To ensure personnel do not abandon work stations, medical teams camp at the prisons for at least two days so that even those who work in shifts do not miss out.
Baine adds that none of the 60,000 prisoners have been vaccinated, contrary to some social media reports that Kawempe North MP elect Muhammad Segirinya was vaccinated when he was remanded at Kitalya prison. Ssegirinya was released on bail last week and is currently receiving medical treatment in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Baine however says prisoners are just as vulnerable as the staff because Uganda Prisons has registered a total of 1,045 COVID-19 cases ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. These cases were recorded among both inmates and staff. The most notable being the 152 inmates and one prison staff at Amuru prison who tested positive on 22nd August 2020.
A prison warder who got the jab at the prison headquarters Kampala says he did not experience any side effects. Some vaccinated people however say they experienced headaches, stomach ache, nausea among other side effects after getting the jab.
Meanwhile, three prison warders from Kigo prison say they got the jab on March 24- 25. The exercise was conducted by medics who camped at the facility for two days and all the personnel took the jab.
Kigo prison has over 200 personnel who are currently managing 1,900 prisoners.