In a draft bill aimed at bolstering Uganda’s campaign to inoculate more people against COVID-19, Ugandan officials are attempting to constitutionally mandate vaccinations.
Failure to comply with vaccination requirements during disease outbreaks would result in a six-month prison sentence, according to the draft bill, which is subject to revision as it is scrutinized by a parliamentary health committee.
“It is the correct thing to do,” said Alfred Driwale, a Ugandan governmental officer in charge of the country’s immunization efforts.
Ugandan officials have been unable in enforcing restricted mandates in recent months. Operators objected to a vaccination mandate for those using public transportation, and bars reopened after a prolonged lockout without strictly adhering to pandemic-era guidelines.
In January, Uganda’s health minister declared that over 400,000 vaccination doses would be destroyed if they were not utilized before they expired. This is a significant setback for a government that has only provided roughly 12.7 million shots while aiming to vaccinate at least half of the country’s 44 million inhabitants.
Last year, President Yoweri Museveni warned that any expired doses would be held accountable, placing pressure on local officials to deliver large quantities of vaccinations that often arrived with imminent expiration dates.
Authorities are now attempting to formalize vaccination mandates.
“Vaccines helped us survive and practically eradicate polio,” said Fox Odoi, a pro-government senator who is a vocal proponent of vaccination requirements. “I no longer have polio because of the immunizations I received.”
In a nation with a weak health system and considerable vaccine reluctance, Odoi, who leads the parliamentary committee on human rights, said the government had “a political obligation” to enforce vaccine requirements. Fake COVID-19 immunization cards have been reported for sale in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.
If African individuals aren’t keen to acquire increasingly accessible dosages, African governments may have to resort to vaccination mandates, according to John Nkengasong, the chairman of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccine mandates for public employees and others have been declared in African countries such as Zimbabwe and Ghana.
The United States has contributed 11 million vaccine doses to Uganda, which has recorded more than 162,000 virus cases, as part of a surge of humanitarian aid to developing countries whose leaders have accused wealthy nations of hoarding vaccine doses at their expense.
Despite this, Africa continues to be the world’s least immunized continent against COVID-19, with just roughly 11% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people receiving the vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization, just six of Africa’s 54 nations have reached the worldwide goal of vaccinating 40% of their people against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.