Sixty-two percent of Ugandans aged fifteen and above had received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine or more by the end of August, a survey by the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) and World Bank has revealed.
According to the report, the youngest respondents aged fifteen to twenty-four had the lowest shares of fully vaccinated respondents. The survey shows that a sizable share of the oldest respondents aged 65 and above remains unvaccinated.
Among the unvaccinated, 63% do not plan to be vaccinated or hesitate due to medical reasons, 13% do not feel it is a priority, 13% are worried about side effects and the remaining 11% mentioned other reasons. This is different from younger cohorts who avoided vaccination mostly because of side effects and low trust in vaccines.
This data was collected through the Uganda High-Frequency Phone Survey (UHFPS), which has been going on since 2020. Initially, the survey was used to track the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on the national population, but now has a wider scope to measure the impacts of other shocks as well.
The survey re-contacts households that had phone numbers for at least one household member or a reference individual from the Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) 2019/20. The first round of the survey was conducted in June 2020 and the latest is the ninth round coming more than two years after the pandemic started.
The results show, currently, respondents without formal education are more willing to get vaccinated than their educated counterparts. However, while many of the uneducated are unwilling to get vaccinated, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently issued a new directive requiring people attending formal meetings to have proof of vaccination.
Museveni said the vaccines are available, but they are not being well utilized and yet records show eight million Ugandans who were targeted initially have never bothered to get vaccinated.
Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng says the COVID-19 positivity rate is on the rise, and by Monday that rate which had gone to as low as 0.3% had risen to an average of 1.2%. She urges especially the elderly who are at the highest risk of getting severe forms of COVID-19 to get their booster doses.
But, researchers on the survey recommend the Ministry go beyond just encouraging people to understand and address the concerns of those that don’t want to get vaccinated in addition to providing firmer assurance of the benefits of vaccination.
To address the needs of different groups with regard to information about vaccines, UBOS recommends understanding which sources are trusted the most and through which channels information is obtained.
Results of the survey show the most trusted sources of reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines to be health workers, government authorities, and the media. They say government authorities play a more important role for those without education and older respondents, while media is more important for those with secondary education and above.