The Amuru District Covid-19 Taskforce has for the second time in three months threatened to block health workers, who refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, from accessing health facilities to work, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The move to stop the health workers who skipped vaccination against coronavirus is aimed at ensuring compliance among the health workers, among whom the uptake of the vaccine has remained significantly low.
The move means no health worker will be allowed to access any health facility in the district to do their work without presenting a Covid-19 vaccination certificate.
Some of the health workers received the first dose of the vaccine but are reluctant to take the second jab, while others have received the vaccine at all.
Although the district has only lost one senior medical officer to Covid-19, and nearly 50 others are still battling the virus under home-based care management, Mr Geoffrey Osborn Ochieng, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner (RDC), who chairs the district Covid-19 taskforce, said the move is aimed at saving the lives of medical workers and their patients.
"It is our stronger desire that all health workers must live by example, meaning they should all get vaccinated if they are to be relevant in preaching about standard operating procedures (SOPs) or to encourage the public to go for the jabs," Mr Ocheng told this newspaper on Monday.
"If an officer-in-charge of a health centre cannot accept to be vaccinated, how can he be in a position to tell his staff or the public to adhere to the SOPs? If they cannot do it, then their positions have to be revoked," he added.
"Vaccines uptake among health workers in Amuru is at 68 per cent and we had a meeting where I told the chief administrative officer (CAO) to sit with all the officers-in-charge of health centres in the district and find out why there is still low uptake of vaccines," Mr Ocheng said.
He said some health workers told the meeting that they had taken their first jabs and were waiting for the second dose, but some health workers had refused to be vaccinated.
In April, Mr Ocheng gave the 334 health workers in the district a one-week ultimatum to get vaccinated or miss their salaries, a month after the district received 3,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, although the move did not yield fruits.
Although we could not independently verify the numbers with the district authorities, nearly half of the health workers in the district declined to get vaccinated.
"Amuru District is one of the Covid-19 hotspots where health workers should not have hesitated to get vaccinated against the virus," he said.
Mr Ocheng said the district has 320 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which have been spared for health workers and teachers.
Mr Micheal Lakony, the district chairperson, said the unvaccinated health workers will appear before a disciplinary committee to explain why they didn't get the jabs.
Out of the 344 health workers in Amuru District, 312 got both jabs, while 12 of them refused to get vaccinated for unclear reasons.
Dr Patrick Odong Olwedo, the Amuru District health officer, said the 12 health workers will appear before a committee to explain why they don't want to get vaccinated.
He said it is very bad for health workers to refuse the vaccines yet they are at risk of contracting the virus.
Ms Gloria Akao, the officer-in-charge of Awee Health Centre II in Lamogi Sub-county, said all the 11 health workers at the facility had taken their first doses of the vaccine and were waiting for the second jab.
Thomson Obong, the Amuru CAO, said although the President said vaccination is voluntary, for the good of the people, they will have to force some of them to get vaccinated.