Nsambya hospital is on the spot for injecting a student two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in a space of just two days after health workers failed to trace her information that had been recorded on the first visit.
Under normal circumstances, a person who gets an AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab takes between eight to 12 weeks before getting their second dose. But for Joan, a student who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity, said this only took two days.
When she got her first jab on Wednesday, Joan was told that the facility had run out of vaccination cards. The nurses recorded her details and advised her to pick the vaccination card a few days later. But when she did, the records could not be traced and the nurses could also not confirm that indeed, she had been vaccinated earlier.
Worried about what would likely happen to her, she asked that they check her upper arm as it still pained and appeared irritated. This is the only proof that Joan had since she didn’t get her vaccination card immediately as stipulated in the guidelines, and yet the forms they had temporarily registered her on were lost.
For fear of likely adverse reactions, as she had already started experiencing fever, headache and general body weakness, the family had to go back to the hospital on Saturday and according to the medical form, a doctor prescribed she takes panadol as she awaits the vaccination team that only works during weekdays.
URN followed up on Monday but administrators at the hospital including the Public Relations Officer said they weren’t available for media interviews as they were held up in whole-day meetings.
At the Ministry of Health, Dr Immaculate Ampaire, the Assistant Manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) that is spearheading the vaccination exercise blamed the hospital for erring on both the process followed before actual immunization and going ahead to dispense another jab. She said clients are supposed to get their cards immediately after being vaccinated.
She says as a ministry, they had been as a de-congesting strategy encouraging people to do pre-registration such that when they finally come through on the day of the appointment, they take the jab and take the card on the spot.
When the issue was put to a vaccinologist Dr Ombeva Malande, he said taking the vaccine early on than prescribed has not yet been studied and therefore the likely risk to the recipient is unknown.
He explains though the patient will likely get more pronounced side effects from the vaccine, they will not be harmful effects since the technology used in making the vaccine is that they give inactivated viruses.
For now however, Joan is scheduled to take her would-be second dose which will be her third in January. Meanwhile, complaints of errors in vaccination have been piling. Another client who took her jab from Nsambya hospital on Monday complains of having her personal details messed up and yet the teams only took her through a pre-jab counselling session after the jab.
A lawyer by profession, she says a nurse had misspelt the word on her card and only erased it after being alerted. Worse, she says they only asked her if she was pregnant or breastfeeding after injecting her.