The Health Ministry has delayed to upload the data of the more than 6.5 million Ugandans’ COVID-19 jabs on its portal due to technical challenges.
Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, the COVID-19 Incident Commander, says they got overwhelmed by the high turn up of vaccinated people in a short period of time. Between November and December, the Ministry of Health has vaccinated up to eight million people with at least the first dose and most of this data has not yet been uploaded.
Kyabayinze however, says that they have so far managed to upload the data of three million people who took the vaccine between March when the country launched the COVID-19 vaccination drive and October, adding that their certificates are available.
However, a check by URN revealed that the date of some people vaccinated between March and October is still missing on the online Portal. For instance, Zainab Asuman, an elderly woman who took her first jab from Kisenyi Health Center IV and her second from Kamwokya in early June still can’t get her certificate.
According to her vaccination card, Zainab received her first jab on April 2nd, 2021, and the second on June 3rd, 2021. She explains that her numerous attempts to retrieve the certificate only show partial vaccination.
Kyabayinze says for such exceptions, the problem could be arising from their places of vaccination where they could have delayed transferring their data from the book or the card to the e-system, which is the responsibility of health workers or data entrants under the supervision of District Health Officers (DHOs).
In Amuru, which is one of the districts that have recorded a high number of COVID infections, the DHO Dr. Patrick Odong Olwedo told URN on Monday that they haven’t uploaded a lot of data because the books that they use to record data at vaccine sites are the same that are supposed to be used to enter the information on the on-line system, something that creates delays.
On his part, Jinja DHO Peter Dyogo Nantamu, says that they specifically faced challenges in November when they had over a hundred thousand people getting vaccinated in the same period and yet they only have three data entrants.
Worse still, he says that they needed to find a person who was specifically designated to focus on helping those whose certificates are ready since not everyone has the competence of generating a certificate online.
Both officials and individuals are struggling to process certificates. Recently, the Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said that starting March this year all Ugandans will be required to present COVID-19 vaccination cards in order to travel.
She noted that the public has had sufficient time to get not just their first and second jabs but also have data entered into the system. According to the notice on the Ministry of Health (MOH) website, a person will have their data uploaded two weeks after the last jab but millions of people still can’t find their information.
However, the World Health Organization says it shouldn’t be mandatory for people to have a digital document to travel. In its August 27th, 2021 dossier, the organization noted that they don’t support the requirement of proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to travel although they added for some countries, depending on their risk assessment, information about vaccination against COVID-19 may be used to reduce requirements for quarantine or testing upon arrival.
The organization notes that the certificate serves the same purpose as the commonly used paper-based vaccination card. However historically, paper-based vaccination records have presented many challenges such as the possibility of losing or damaging the card, or even the possibility of fraud.
In Uganda, there are already reports of fraudsters processing fake vaccination cards possessing stamps similar to those issued by MOH. This digital solution with a special chip is designed to address these challenges.