Amuru District Health officials have halted a mass covid-19 vaccination exercise three days after it was started because of low turn up.
The District embarked on the second phase of mass covid-19 vaccination on March 15 with the exercise meant to last for a week. This was after the Health Ministry launched the second phase of the mass covid-19 vaccination for the Acholi Sub-region in Gulu City on March 11.
But Amuru Resident District Commissioner, Geoffrey Osborn Oceng, says that the mass vaccination campaign has failed to attract locals arguing that there was an extremely low turn up, three days after it was launched.
Oceng says 74 health workers were deployed to conduct the campaign across the district and each Health worker was expected to vaccinate at least 200 people but the vaccine uptake has been rather too low.
Oceng who is also the chairperson of Covid-19 Taskforce says he has since directed the halting of the mass covid-19 vaccination campaign pending reorganization. He however notes the static and routine vaccinations in all the recommended health facilities will continue.
According to Oceng, the mass vaccination drive will resume by March 23 (Wednesday) once the community has been fully mobilized and resources for the campaign aligned with an organized vaccination team.
Following the low vaccine uptake, the district covid-19 task force has come out with several measures to boost the uptake of the vaccine among locals.
The measures according to Oceng include the institution of spontaneous roadblocks that will run between March 23 to March 30 to check the vaccination status of all pedestrians, motorists, and passengers.
Other measures are a ban on Boda Boda and taxi operators from carrying unvaccinated passengers, mandatory identification of vaccination cards to access public offices, schools, churches, markets, and health facilities.
Denis Okello, the Assistant District Health Officer Amuru says they are changing the vaccination strategy by conducting door to door covid-19 vaccination for eligible persons.
He notes that their old strategy of waiting for the locals to approach the various vaccination points has failed not only in the first but also in the second phase of the mass vaccination campaign. Okello says misinformation circulating against the vaccines within the community has also demoralized the locals from taking the jab.
Health Officials also believe the campaign on Tuberculosis and Sanitation week running concurrently with the mass Covid-19 vaccine has affected mobilization since the same Village Health Teams-VHTs are being used for all the programs.
Amuru District is among the areas in the Acholi Sub-region that performed poorly in the first round of the accelerated mass covid-19 vaccination launched by the Health Ministry in November last year. According to statistics from the Health Department, only 46,000 people out of the targeted 110,112 people were vaccinated in the first phase of the mass vaccination last year.
Over the weekend, Gulu District Health Educator William Onyai also noted that there was a low turn up of people for the second phase of the vaccination in both Gulu District and Gulu city. According to Onyai health officials in Gulu have so far vaccinated 3,228 people in the last three days since the mass vaccination drive was launched in the area.
The Health Ministry has sent in a total of 98,981 doses of vaccines for the mass vaccination campaign. The vaccines according to Onyai, comprises 1,573 doses of Sinovac, 6,518 doses of Moderna vaccines, and 90,890 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“We believe the consignments will help us to cover our target in this vaccination campaign. We ask people to come out and get vaccinated,” says Onyai.
Onyai however says despite the large number of vaccines delivered by the Health Ministry, the turn up in the last three days is very low. He says that they are worried that both the district and city health officials may not hit their target owing to the low turn-up of people.
Gulu district is targeting to vaccinate 93,795 people for the first dose of the vaccine and another 62,960 for the second covid-19 doses.
The State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties, Anifa Kawooya last week blamed the low vaccine uptake in the Acholi sub-region on misinformation spread by people in the community and social media.
Kawooya asked the religious, traditional, and political leaders to rally locals to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Last year, the region also failed to hit its target of vaccinating 900,000 people in the region during the first phase of the covid-19 vaccination.
Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the National Vaccination Commander and Director of Health Services in charge of public health noted that only five Districts in the region performed well in the first phase of mass covid-19 vaccination.
He highlighted, that Gulu, Amuru, and Nwoya poorly performed in the vaccination drive.
According to Kyabayinze, Gulu district and Gulu city only utilized 45 percent of the doses despite getting 165,000 doses of vaccines, while in Nwoya only 58,000 people out of the targeted 128,000 were vaccinated.
In Amuru district, vaccination performance stood at only 43 percent despite receiving a total of 110,000 doses of covid-19 vaccines.