AD497: Ugandans voice concerns about COVID-19 response, but most are willing to be vaccinated

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Simon Templer Kodiaga and Mabel Nannozi

Just 10 days after the country’s first COVID-19 case in March 2020, the Ugandan government ordered a nationwide lockdown (Kyeyune, 2020). A variety of restrictions have continued in place ever since as the country has recorded more than 128,000 infections and more than 3,260 deaths (Biryabarema, 2021; Ministry of Health, 2021; WHO, 2021).

A year later, the government rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Despite misinformation on social media disputing vaccine safety and effectiveness, more than 7.8 million vaccine doses had been administered as of 15 December 2021, out of a population of 43 million (UNICEF, 2021; Ministry of Health, 2021; WHO, 2021). At least 800 people reportedly were so eager for the vaccine that they paid fraudsters for counterfeit jabs (Africanews, 2021).

Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that a large majority of Ugandans say they are likely to try to be vaccinated, even if far fewer trust the government to ensure that the vaccine is safe.

Overall, most Ugandans approve of the government’s management of the COVID-19 response, but majorities also say that pandemic-related assistance was distributed unfairly, that resources intended for the COVID-19 response were lost to government corruption, and that they worry that politicians will use the pandemic to increase their power.