If you want to know about life in an unvaccinated country, look to Uganda

Africa is paying the price of western hoarding, and my country will endure Covid lockdowns until we get more doses

By Jackee Budesta Batanda
8 Sep 2021
photo: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

My gardener, Emmanuel, returned a few days ago after a five-month hiatus. One of the conditions for his return was that he needed to be vaccinated. He comes from Karamoja in the north-eastern part of Uganda, where the vaccine uptake was low, so he was able to get vaccinated.

I first thought that he was fibbing, as many Ugandans are prone to do when they get fake documents in order to get a pass. I checked his card and confirmed he had a genuine vaccination card. He told me that his whole family had been vaccinated.

On the other hand, Annet, my live-in housekeeper, has resisted getting the vaccine – always weaving new stories of why she cannot get it. First it was that only adults over 50 were allowed the vaccine. Today, it is only teachers and other essential workers are getting immunised. I have stopped cajoling her to get vaccinated, although I still share with her the vaccine schedules and centres whenever I get the updates.

Both Emmanuel and Annet are representative of the current Ugandan landscape: one part eager to be vaccinated, and observing the relevant restrictions and procedures; and the other side, if not anti-vaccine, coming up with excuses for not taking it.

While some Ugandans have been able to access the vaccine, and others have been offered it but not taken it up, doses are overall in short supply.

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