KAMPALA, UGANDA - The World Health Organization is asking Ugandans to have faith in the trial vaccine being used to contain the Ebola outbreak near the border with Congo. This follows reports that 13 people who came in contact with the virus declined to be vaccinated.
Since 2018 Uganda has vaccinated nearly 5,000 people including medical officers, frontline health workers and most recently, people who came into contact with the virus in the western Kasese district
However, 13 out of the 94 confirmed contact persons in Kasese district declined to be vaccinated. Village health coordinator Mbusa Geoffrey tells VOA the 13 believe that only prayer can protect them from the virus.
In an interview with VOA, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said the Ebola vaccine is 97 percent effective.
"It is still an experimental vaccine because there is a protocol to follow until it's been used to a certain extent," she explained. "And then the data can be put together to definitively determine its effectiveness. But I do believe that we have enough experience with this vaccine now, to know that it's an extremely effective vaccine. So, people can have faith in it."
Early this month, Uganda confirmed its first three Ebola cases of the current outbreak. All three patients, two of whom died, had crossed over from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a raging Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,500 people.
Ugandan Health Minister Ruth Aceng says those who do not want to be vaccinated have not been adequately sensitized.
"My appeal to the 13 who have declined vaccination is for them to come out and get vaccinated," she stressed. "We want them alive. And we also want to ensure that other people are alive. It is for their own good."
Even though there are no new confirmed cases in Uganda, the country remains at risk due to the heavy influx of refugees fleeing conflicts in the eastern part of Congo.