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Unit Director Joins National Awareness Campaign on COVID-19 Vaccine Safety for Children

Unit Director Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu (fourth-left) with other panelists

MRC/UVRI/LSHTM Uganda Research Unit Director, Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, joined research experts from the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Makerere University School of Public Health in a widely televised discussion on COVID-19 vaccination themed "COVID-19 Vaccination protects you and your child; Say YES to Vaccination." The platform aimed to boost vaccine uptake among children between 12-17 years across Uganda, by increasing public awareness about COVID-19 vaccines, debunking myths and misleading information circulating in public.

Prof. Kaleebu explained the process of COVID-19 vaccine development, emphasizing that despite concerns about their capacity to prevent infection, vaccines effectively protect both children and adults from severe symptoms of the disease and in other cases from falling ill at all, by boosting immunity. He further assured the public that efforts to create an efficient COVID-19 vaccine in Uganda are already underway

“There are three types of vaccines the scientists are working on, firstly is the sub-unit vaccine and our colleagues at Makerere University are working on that. My colleagues at Uganda Virus Institute are working on two vaccine types an inactivated vaccine and an adeno-vectored vaccine, they are still in the lab. The next step is to go to animals.”

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, MRC/UVRI/LSHTM Uganda Research Unit Director

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, a Pediatrician and senior lecturer at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences further emphasized that reports of child deaths in some countries as a result of COVID-19 highlight a risk that ought to be mitigated by safe vaccination of children.  

“No one is going to vaccinate a child by force, but parents will be given the liberty to take their children for vaccination peacefully.”

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Makerere University, College of Health Sciences

The Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine confirmed that safe vaccination of all Ugandan citizens remains a priority for the government. She further assured the public of the enhanced capacity of the government to deliver on its goal.

“The Ministry of Health has built capacity to ensure all vaccines across the country are transported according to temperatures that keep the integrity of the vaccines and safety of the recipients. Our plan was to vaccinate 22 million people in the country, but that number has since gone up with current efforts to vaccinate children between 12-17 years.”

Dr. Diana Atwine, PS MoH

ABOUT THE UNIT

The mission of the MRC/UVRI/LSHTM Uganda Research Unit is to conduct high quality research that adds knowledge and leads to improved control of infectious diseases in Uganda, Africa and globally, through the translation of scientific findings into policy and practice and rigorous research capacity building.

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