By Shiprah Kwagala
A day after legislators rejected a government proposal for mandatory vaccination of adults, local people have expressed a sigh of relief.
This comes at a time when the government has been leading a drive for vaccination against Covid-19 for over a year and Parliament had attempted to pass legislation that required mandatory vaccinations.
The government had proposed under the bill approved on Tuesday that persons who fail to comply with a requirement for vaccination would be fined up to Shillings four million or serve a jail term of six months.
Muyinda James a local council chairperson one in Nabidongha C village, Iganga, said that natives need to have a choice in vaccination especially as some were reporting side effects with the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our people have been reporting a number of side effects after vaccination which scared off some. Since this is a matter to do with an individual’s health, I am happy that my people will get to choose for themselves.”
Nakawala Justine, who is a secondary school student mentioned that there has been fear for Covid-19 vaccination among her fellow learners. According to her, most students were afraid of side effects which made them miss school when those of 18 years and above were enlisted as priority groups.
“At least we have a choice because I for one I don’t wish to be vaccinated against Covid-19” she noted “
Mutanda Cedrick, a hawker dealing in women accessories mentioned that the government needed to worry more about commodity prices and famine at the time than vaccination.
“First of all, even when one is vaccinated, they can fall sick for the case of COVID-19, we can well fend for our health but the government should look at real issues, Mutanda said.
Najib Kasole, a Human Rights Lawyer noted in defending body autonomy which is a right for natives, the power of choice on what medication enters their body is inevitable.
Kasole also added that the punishments tied to this proposal were out of proportion to the would-be offense. “The law was imposing punitive punishment. The punishment was harsh. You can’t imprison someone for 5 years just because they refused to be vaccinated.”
Records from the Ministry of Health show that the number of positive COVID-19 cases is on the increase. This is with an estimate that 600 cases are being recorded every week on average now, compared to 20 cases per week between the months of January and May 2022. As of July 23, Uganda has lost 3,627 to Covid19 according to Worldometers information website.