The arrival of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Uganda marks a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines globally.
On Friday, Uganda welcomed the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines from the global COVAX.
A total of 864,000 vaccines that arrived aboard a Fly Emirates aircraft were the first batch of the 3.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was donated to Uganda by the COVAX facility to be delivered between the months of March and June 2021.
According to the health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, free vaccination will commence on March 10. Aceng said the vaccination will mainly target health workers in public and private health facilities in addition to other priority groups that are most at risk of contracting the virus.
“Other target groups in order of priority are security personnel, teachers, humanitarian frontline workers, people above 50 years with underlying conditions, people aged 18-50 with underlying conditions, and other emerging high risk and priority essential groups as more vaccine doses arrive in the country,” Aceng said.
“Vaccination is scheduled to begin on March 10th, 2021 and we target to vaccinate 49.6% (21,936,011) of the population in a phased manner. Each phase is planned to cover 20% (4.38 million people).”
According to the World Health Organisation representative in Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, they are looking to oversee a global end to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that COVAX has so far delivered up to 20 million vaccine doses to 20 countries with more deliveries expected in the coming weeks.
“The arrival of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Uganda marks a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally. Special thanks to COVAX members, UNICEF among others,” Dr Yonas said.
“COVAX has delivered over 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 20 countries. In the next week, it will deliver 14.4 million doses to a further 31 countries,” he added.
Relatively, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) representative, Munir A Safieldin said the arrival of the vaccines will help businesses worldwide to normalise.
“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.