There is a mad dash for Covid-19 jabs across the countryside after the Ministry of Health delivered consignments for various upcountry vaccination centres, with reports of police intervening to calm locals where demand has outstripped supplied doses.
The rush to get vaccinated comes at a time when some districts are witnessing a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Dr John Wilson Etolu, the head of the treatment centre at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, on Monday acknowledged that a total of 70 patients are receiving treatment at the facility, of which 40 are on oxygen.
“All the 70 patients here are from Teso Sub-region, and majority are from the districts of Kumi, Ngora and Bukedea, unlike in the past when the facility used to host patients from other regions,” Dr Etolu said.
He said they are yet to start investigations why there are still surging cases of Covid-19 infections in the region, with the persons aged 60 years and above being the most affected.
On Monday, more than 200 people gathered at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital vaccination centre, but after about eight hours, less than 40 people had received their jabs.
Those seeking the jabs
Among the people who lined up for the vaccine included Ugandans, Indians Iranians, among other nationals.
The foreign nationals accused the medical workers of poor time management.
“I came here at 7.30am but it is coming to 4pm and we have not been vaccinated,” Mr Saman Khanjanian, an Iranian said.
Another foreign national, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the health workers of being disorganised in their way of offering services.
“This level of disorganisation for a regional health facility is unbelievable. They [health workers] have been moving up and down acting very busy, but since morning when I came, I don’t see the numbers [of those seeking the jabs] reducing,” he said.
“You can imagine, all these people have been here for close to 10 hours because they want to get vaccined. I don’t know if this facility has a manager or not,” he added.
However, Dr Etolu explained that the delays were caused by the challenges in verifying the names of the beneficiaries from the register.
He revealed that Soroti Regional Referral Hospital received a total of 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, which is currently administered on beneficiaries, giving priority to those receiving the second dose.
In Kabarole District, Mr Brian Kisembo, the district Covid-19 taskforce incident manager, said they received 1,544 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and by Monday afternoon, they were still holding meetings on how to start the vaccination exercise yesterday.
In Kabarole and Fort Portal City, the vaccination centres are at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, Bukuku Health Centre IV, and Muchwa Health centre III in Ruteete.
Police deploy to cause calm in Lira
Meanwhile, in Lira District, police personnel were on Monday morning deployed at Lira Regional Referral Hospital vaccination centre to control the rowdy crowd, who were struggling to be vaccinated with the few doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.
Lira City received 1,500 doses of the vaccine, which were shared among the five vaccination sites in the city. The centres include Lira Regional Referral Hospital, Lira University Teaching Hospital, Ober Health Centre III, Boroboro Health Centre III, and Lira Pentecostal Church.
When Daily Monitor visited Lira Regional Referral Hospital vaccination centre at the former Akii-bua stadium playground, by 7am, more than 500 people had already jammed the place waiting to receive their second jabs.
Police had to intervene as the health workers were overwhelmed, and the majority were not observing the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Dr Jimmy Ssewanyana, the officer-in-charge of Lira Regional Referral Hospital Covid-19 vaccination centre, said they started the exercise for the second dose on Monday with 300 doses, although more than 500 people turned up and they were struggling for the few doses.
Dr Ssewanyana said due to the limited doses, they are prioritising those going seeking the second doses, including teachers and health workers in accordance to the Ministry of Health guidelines.
Last week, local leaders in Lira District expressed dissatisfaction over the few doses of AstraZeneca vaccines allocated to them.
The National Medical Stores (NMS) delivered only 3,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which was shared by the whole district. However, the district leaders said they had requested for 11,000 doses.
Lira City Council Mayor Sam Atul said he had forewarned that because of the few vaccines available, there would be chaos at the vaccination centres as everybody would want to be vaccinated.
“We are going to be in trouble because we have already informed our people that there are vaccines. So, they will be rushing and fighting to get vaccinated, but they will not be able to get the jabs,” Mr Atul said.
Covid Vaccination…Situation in Masaka
Mr Faith Nakiyimba, the Masaka District health officer, told Daily Monitor on Monday that they received 2,700 doses of the vaccines. She said the hospital is prioritising those who are due for the second jabs.
Mr Nakiyimba added that those who are seeking first doses should wait until the government delivers a third batch.
“More eight centres have been set-up to bring the jabs closer to people due for second jabs,” Ms Nakiyimba explained.
Compiled by Simon Peter Emwamu, George Muron, Alex Ashaba, Malik Fahd Jjingo, Charity Akullo & Patrick Ebong.