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Study Reveals Low Uptake of COVID-19 Booster Doses Among Ugandans


COVID 19 Vaccines Uganda

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According to research conducted by the Makerere University School of Public Health, a significant portion of Ugandans who had previously been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not availed themselves for booster doses.

The study, carried out between February and March 2023 at the Malaba and Mutukula points of entry, aimed to assess the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, identify influencing factors, and gauge the willingness of unvaccinated high-risk populations to receive the vaccine.

During the presentation of findings, Dr. Joseph KB Matovu, one of the researchers involved, disclosed that among the 854 individuals sampled, none had opted to receive a booster dose subsequent to their initial vaccination.

A booster dose refers to an additional dose of a vaccine administered after the primary dose has been provided. These shots serve to remind the body’s immune system of the infection it must defend against, thereby enhancing or “boosting” immunity.

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Matovu explained that many individuals believed that a booster dose alone was sufficient protection against COVID-19, likely influenced by the government’s emphasis on this aspect.

Ministry of Health records indicated that as of April 2022, more than 10.2 million individuals, representing 48 percent of the targeted 22 million, had been fully vaccinated. However, only 59,542 had received booster doses intended to bolster vaccine efficacy, which is believed to diminish over time. This suggests that over 10.1 million fully vaccinated Ugandans are yet to receive booster shots.

The study targeted various groups, including truck drivers, health workers, sex workers, border post workers, local business traders, and market vendors at both the Mutukula and Malaba borders.

Rebecca Nuwematsiko, another researcher involved in the study, explained that Mutukula and Malaba were chosen due to their high activity levels, facilitating increased movement and consequently leading to elevated COVID-19 cases. She noted skepticism about COVID-19 in Tanzania, which contributed to a surge in cases at the Mutukula border.

Regarding vaccine uptake, the research revealed that 80.3% (686 individuals) had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Of these, slightly over half (59.6% or 409 individuals) had completed their vaccination schedule, with 53.1% from Malaba and 68.9% from Mutukula.

The study further indicated that 98.3% of adults over 45 had received at least one vaccine dose, surpassing other age groups, while younger age groups exhibited lower vaccination rates. In their recommendations, the researchers emphasized the need to strengthen vaccination efforts in these border communities to mitigate vulnerability to future outbreaks.

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