The mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign in several parts of Amuru District has suffered a setback because of the start of the new farming season, health officials have disclosed. According to the health officials, the most eligible people who are predominantly farmers have shunned the vaccination exercise to attend to their garden work following the return of rainfalls.
Amuru District COVID-19 task force launched the second phase of the mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign on March 15, 2022. However, the exercise suffered setbacks forcing the task force to launch the door-to-door vaccination to boost the vaccine uptake.
Denis Okello, the Assistant Amuru District Health Officer, says that most of the people who they approached during the door-to-door vaccination campaign rejected the vaccine over fears that its side effects will inconvenience their farm work.
Okello says locals alleged that the vaccine’s side effects including a mild form of weakness and pain in the arm will affect them from holding hoes and ox-ploughs while opening their gardens. “The locals are scared about what they perceive as bad side effects that will not allow them to work on their farms normally. Most have since shunned vaccination over farm works,” said Okello.
He was however quick to dismiss the allegations by the locals, saying that the vaccine doesn’t have an adverse side effect that limits one from performing their normal duties. “This vaccine doesn’t affect you so badly that you fail to perform your duties, it’s not the case. You can get a mild reaction, like soars at the spot vaccinated or some small weakness not lasting 24hours,” he said.
Okello has appealed to the population to embrace the vaccine to boost their immunity in fighting COVID-19. George Ocan, the Amuru District Secretary for Health confirms that many people are shying away from the vaccination due to the start of the farming season. He says the vaccine hesitancy in the community is being driven by misinformation against the vaccine’s efficacy and alleged adverse side effects.
According to Ocan, the move has negatively impacted on covid-19 vaccination exercise since its launch on March 15. He says only 13,903 people have received COVID-19 jabs since the launch despite the district receiving over 90,000 doses of vaccines comprising Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
“We are intensifying mobilization to ensure that we hit the target and have everyone eligible for the vaccine get vaccinated,” he said. Amuru District has a population of 110,112 people above 18 years of age who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
But since the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination, only 60,112 people have been vaccinated out of which 48,335 received the first dose and 11,777 received the second dose of the vaccine. The District was ranked among three other districts in the Acholi Sub-region that performed poorly in the first round of the mass Covid-19 vaccination launched in November last year.
Amuru District is among three other districts 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.