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Uganda receives first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

864,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the country this afternoon.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The first batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines landed at Entebbe International Airport today at around 2:55 pm aboard an Emirates 777 Boeing flight.

A total of 864,000 vaccine doses with which an estimated 432,000 Ugandans will be vaccinated are part of the first batch procured under the COVAX Facility.

At the airport, the vaccines were received by several foreign dignitaries and different organisations under the United Nations. All dignitaries led by the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng had a spring in their step as they went to the plane to receive the vaccines.

When the vaccines were being offloaded, ministry of health officials and other delegates present clapped in jubilation. Many could be heard saying “finally!”.

Speaking at the event, Dr Aceng said that the vaccine would give the country a better position to handle the disease.

“This is a great day and I want us to start by thanking God. This vaccine will go along way in the fight against this pandemic and I encourage everyone to wait for their turn to receive the vaccine. This vaccine will help us respond better to the disease,” Dr Aceng said.

Similarly, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund representative, Munir A Safieldin said the arrival of the vaccines means life can start getting back to normal.

“The arrival of vaccines would not be possible without the generous contribution of members of the COVAX facility. Now, we can expect things to get back to normal,” he said.

Dr Yonas Woldermariam, the WHO country representative urged all eligible persons to get the life saving vaccines.

“Research has shown that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in protecting against COVID-19, everyone should get these vaccines because they will go a long way in reducing the burden of COVID-19 on the health system. It will reduce the occurance of deaths in the country,” Dr Woldermariam said.

This first batch of the vaccines will only vaccinate two percent of the population. Uganda is planning on vaccinating 49 percent of the population.

During the first phase of vaccination, health workers and teachers will be given priority. According to a time table released by the health minister, vaccination of health workers will start next week on March 10 to 15th. The launch of vaccination will take place at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Vaccination of teachers will start on March 16 up to 19th country wide. The country is expecting to receive an additional 21 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The arrival of the vaccines comes almost a year since Uganda reported it’s first COVID-19 case. Today, the country is reporting a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections.

Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization says vaccination against the disease is the most effective way to deal the virus.

“The vaccines are the only effective way for people to be protected against COVID-19. Other public health measures such as hand washing and wearing a mask are expensive to the user and cannot be easily adhered to,” he said.

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