Uganda: Govt Shuts Mobile City Covid Vaccination Centres

The government decision to close mobile Covid-19 vaccination centre in Kampala Metropolitan area has increased pressure on the few hospital-based centres, causing unprecedented delays as Ugandans seek the life-saving jabs.

The government has pegged the full reopening of schools and economy in January on vaccination of 7 million Ugandans to effectively contain the virus.

Mr John Sempijja, a resident of Kawempe in Kampala, yesterday said he spent four hours to get a Covid-19 jab at Kisenyi Health Centre IV in the capital city.

“I have come here for a second dose. I arrived here at 7am sharp, and I have just received the jab,” he said at 10:40am while at the health facility. He added: “I got my first dose at Kisenyi Bus Park, but the centre is not operational, so I had to come here [at Kisenyi Health Centre IV].”

Mr Sempijja was lucky as more than 200 people crowded the health centre, tediously waiting to take the jab.

Ms Harriet Nakatto, who had also turned up for vaccination, said she sacrificed her entire day.

“I don’t know the time I will get the vaccine. But I will not leave until I get my second dose. When I came here for my first dose [about three months ago], people were few, but today, people are too many. They should open other vaccination centres like that one at Old Taxi Park to minimise congestion,” she said.

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) director of public health, Dr Dan Okello, and the Authority’s spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comments as they didn’t answer repeated calls by press time.

Ms Anifa Kawooya, the State minister for Health in-charge of General Duties, said vaccination centres are determined and managed by local governments.

“I am not aware [about closure of mobile vaccination centres]. You have to talk to KCCA,” she said.

Ms Margaret Muhanga, the State minister for Primary Healthcare, told this newspaper that they are working hard to increase vaccination coverage.

“We are on a campaign for accelerated vaccination. Ms Kawooya went to Kigezi Sub-region. I am in Rwenzori Sub-region. Ms Aceng went to the north because we want to use these vaccines. They are too many. By the end of the year, we shall have 26 million doses,” she said.

Prof David Serwadda, the head of government vaccine advisory committee, said there is need to employ new tactics to increase vaccine uptake.

“The resources for vaccination are limited to be able to cover the logistics for rolling out the exercise. The President should step up to ensure there is enough resources and people are mobilised for vaccination,” he said.

Prof Serwadda said Uganda is among the African countries that might miss the global target of fully vaccinating at least 40 percent of its population by end of this month to effectively contain the pandemic.

The health workers at Kisenyi and another one at City Hall in Kampala, said they have not received Pfizer vaccine.

Mr Yosuf Okello, who was at Kisenyi, said he felt frustrated when they told him that Pfizer is not available. “I have decided to go for AstraZeneca because they said it is the vaccine in place,” he said.

One of the health workers at City Hall vaccination centre confirmed the lack of Pfizer vaccine. The absence means people who are coming for second dose are getting stuck.

Ms Sheila Nduhukire, the National Medical Stores (NMS) spokesperson, referred our reporter to KCCA.

According to reports from residents of Wakiso, a district in Kampala metropolitan area, some centre don’t have vaccines totally.

Dr Mathias Lugolobi, the District Health Officer of Wakiso, said: “We are just waiting for vaccines from NMS. We don’t have all types.”