Wandering teachers, social media blamed for low vaccination rate in Tororo, Butaleja

Tororo residents and teachers are reluctant to immunize against COVID-19 due to negative reports on social media. Photo file

Tororo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The misuse of the Covid-19 vaccine in the Bukedi and Bugisu sub-region is blamed on wandering teachers who categorically refused to take the jab and negativity on social media.

Recently, Emmanuel Ainebyona, the senior public relations officer at the Ministry of Health, named the districts of Butaleja, Tororo and Namisindwa as the worst performing in terms of COVID-19 vaccination. The district of Tororo, which received 3,248 doses of AstraZeneca and 4,239 doses of Sinovac for the vaccination of teachers, has not yet fully utilized the vaccines.

Tororo District Health Officer Dr Obbo Okoth said there had been reluctance among teachers, which affected the district in the rankings for COVID-19 vaccination. Dr Obbo says that if they are not used by the end of this month, the AstraZeneca vaccines will expire and be wasted.

Tororo District Deputy Administrative Director Jackson Osudo said teachers who refused to be vaccinated risk being cut from the government’s payroll and their services disrupted.

Tororo Resident District Commissioner Nixon Owole, who is also the chair of the COVID-19 task force, says that since the teachers refused to show up for the vaccination, they decided to open up the vaccination to the general public as way of using vaccines. He also warned that teachers who did not take the jab would suffer the consequences.

In Namisindwa, the district health worker, Dr Stephen Masai, says they have yet to use more than 1,000 of the 3,620 doses they received for the second immunization exercise. According to Dr Masai, teachers refused to be vaccinated for their own reasons, adding that social media reports described the vaccines as dangerous, which also affected adoption.

He says they have decided to open up the vaccination to anyone over the age of 18 who is willing to receive the vaccine.

Jackson Wakweika, LC V chairman of Namisindwa district, attributes the low intake to dose restrictions, which limited vaccination to teachers. He says it is possible that all the teachers in the district have been vaccinated and have now decided to give the vaccines to anyone who wants them.

Butaleja district officials have remained discreet about the number of doses they received despite being ranked among the worst performing districts. Michael Higenyi, chairman of LCV, says they will set up roadblocks across the district to ensure that only vaccinated people move from one place to another.

He attributes the low use of vaccines to traditional district myths.

Stephen Akoyo, the health educator of the district of Butaleja, blamed the distrust of the population on social networks.

Patrick Mwima, a resident of Busaba sub-county, says former DRC Stanley Bayole has been too tough in educating people about the importance of vaccination.

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