UGANDA – Ugandan parliament is debating a new law that seeks to impose fines on citizens who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in an effort to boost the country’s drive to inoculate more people against coronavirus.
Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing severe cases and deaths from COVID-19, protecting people from hospitalization as well as preventing large COVID-19 outbreaks.
To protect her people from the pandemic, Uganda started administering COVID-19 vaccines nearly a year ago but only about 16 million jabs have been administered in a population of 45 million.
Poor uptake has derailed vaccination campaign leading to more than 400,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses being disposed in January after they expired before being used, according to reports from the health ministry.
Only a third of Uganda’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the government is keen to change that.
The new law which is currently in Parliament seeks to amend the Public Health Bill and make coronavirus vaccination mandatory.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told lawmakers that the amendment is important to repeal the obsolete provisions, revise the fines for offences committed and protect citizens.
“The bill has a section on vaccination and immunization as a public health measure to protect the vulnerable,” she said.
The new law proposes a fine of UGX4m (US$1,139) for those who fail to get vaccinated or a jail term of six months.
“When we introduce new vaccines, we need to get a mass of people so we create mass immunity and it is important that whoever is supposed to be vaccinated is vaccinated,” she further said.
Uganda fully reopened its economy last month after almost two years of anti-coronavirus measures that included curfews, businesses and school closures, the shutting of borders and other steps.
The strict measures helped curb the pandemic but drew widespread criticism from Ugandans whose businesses and livelihoods were affected.
Uganda National Medical Stores supplies Kalangala District with essential drugs
In more recent developments, the Kalangala District Health Officer Hilary Bitakalamire confirmed the delivery of essential drugs they had appealed to Uganda National Medical Stores (NMS) for a timely supply before stock out.
“Kalangala health centres have received essential medical supplies after missing out on two cycles that led to stock out in government facilities,” confirmed the District Health Officer.
The drugs were delivered by the National Medical Stores at Kalangala Health Center IV where they will be disbursed to different health facilities.
“Though the delays were based on the COVID-19 pandemic, NMS shouldn’t at least miss 2 cycles as it has happened,” added Bitakalamire.
The officials in charge have embarked on transporting these drugs to Kalangala islands health facilities which have been affected including Mazinga Health Center III.
The islanders have been buying drugs at hiked prices due to stock out in government facilities.
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