The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has warned parents who are against the ongoing vaccination of children against Measles and Rubella that they risk being arrested for breaking the law.
The Minister’s warning follows incidents in different parts of the country where parents have refused to take their children for vaccination.
Some cite cultural and religious related factors while others claim the vaccination being administered to their children could be fake. But the Ministry of Health has dismissed these claims assuring the public that the vaccination is safe.
On Thursday, in demonstrating the significance of the exercise, the Health Minister visited Greenhill Academy where her daughter studies from and witnessed her vaccination.
Dr Aceng told reporters at the school that her decision to immunize her daughter publicly followed demands by some sections of the public as well as relatives and friends to have her child publicly vaccinated.
“And today, I have demonstrated this by having my daughter vaccinated. My sister came in person to have her child vaccinated, my friends have also been present,” said the Minister.
The Minister was accompanied by the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative in Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam and Senior Paediatrician, Dr Sabrina Kitaka.
Just had my daughter, Michelle immunised against Measles Rubella (MR) in the ongoing #MRCampaign19. She was accompanied by her cousins and friends who were also vaccinated against MR. This was done at Greenhill Academy pic.twitter.com/34Xc5qmIzW
— Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng (@JaneRuth_Aceng) October 17, 2019
“I want to appeal to all parents to bring your children for vaccination so that we can interrupt the current outbreak and protect our children so that they can live to their full potential, so that we can protect them from diseases that are preventable,” the Minister said.
She however cautioned that parents who are against the exercise risk being prosecuted since vaccination is mandatory, according to Ugandan laws.
“As you are all aware, we have the Immunization Act 201. In the Act, it is clearly spelt out that immunization is mandatory”.
“For those who refuse their children to be vaccinated, the law will take its course. We have directed all schools to have a registry of all children who have been vaccinated. Those who will not have vaccinated their children, we will have information available”
She said Police and Resident District Commissioners have already been notified and are ready to take action.
Uganda launched a mass immunization campaign this week during which over 18 million children will be immunized against Measles and Rubella. This represents 43% of the entire country’s population.
In the recent past, the country has experienced Measles and Rubella outbreaks in over 60 districts. At the same time, Polio remains a big threat given evidence of wild and vaccine-derived strains circulating in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The immunization campaign will take place from Wednesday October 16 to Sunday October 20, 2019. The exercise will be conducted in schools for the first three days and in the communities for the last two days.
It targets all children under 15 years of age whether previously immunized or not in order to interrupt circulation of these diseases.