Government has announced plans to extend the Covid-19 vaccination exercise to secondary schools and tertiary institutions, including universities, before they reopen.
Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni said the programme will cover students, teachers, lecturers, and the non-teaching staff in the learning institutions in order to reduce congestion in vaccination centres.
Ms Museveni was officially releasing the 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) exams results at State House, Nakasero in Kampala yesterday.
The minister said she has engaged the Ministry of Health and they agreed that when the new consignment of vaccines arrive, vaccination posts would be extended to schools, universities and tertiary institutions and this will reduce the congestion at the current centres where Covid-19 vaccines are being administered.
“In talking about safety, let me continue to remind head teachers, principals and heads of other learning institutions to mobilise your respective teachers, critical non-teaching staff and learners above 18 years of age to get their Covid-19 jabs as vaccines become available,” Ms Museveni said.
She added: “As part of our strategy on progression of learners to the next level, the ministry shall be providing the specific dates for the selection exercise for Senior One, Senior Five and first years of universities and tertiary institutions.”
Government had earlier issued a directive, asking all teachers to go for the Covid-19 jab as a requirement to stop the spread of the pandemic in schools, amid hesitancy from some teachers.
Of the 260,717 teachers in the country, who are eligible for the Covid-19 jabs, only 8,517 (three per cent) had been vaccinated by April 13, according to government statistics.
The Ministry of Education wrote to all head teachers and administrators of higher institutions of learning to compel all teachers to go for vaccination as soon as possible to pave way for full reopening of the sector.
Mr Alex Kakooza, the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Sports, on April 23, wrote to all stakeholders in the education sector, saying vaccine hesitancy among teachers could prolong the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on learners.
“The inclusion of teachers in the priority category for vaccination was and is still intended to mitigate the risk of infection of teachers in the school setting for safe learning. However, we have received reports from the Ministry of Health that there is low uptake of vaccination among teachers,” the letter read in part.
“This undermines government efforts to ensure safe and sustainable full reopening of education institutions. The purpose of this circular, therefore, is to inform teachers in all education institutions that you are required to take personal responsibility of getting vaccinate…,” he added.
In May 2020, the National Covid-19 Task force recommended to President Museveni that teachers who have not taken Covid-19 vaccines should be blocked from teaching while children in lower primary classes stay home for longer amid surging pandemic cases.