Health experts have explored circumstances likely to cause death following vaccination against Covid-19.
This follows a growing concern about myths circulating among members of the public that the vaccines are causing adverse side effects, death included.
Addressing journalists on myths, misinformation and facts on covid-19 under the Twaweza initiative on Saturday, the experts said that death is not an adverse effect caused by vaccination, but rather an adverse effect following vaccination.
Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization (UNEPI) program manager said that a person who has been vaccinated and dies within that period should be fully investigated to know the exact cause of death.
He noted that such people could be having underlying health conditions taking a toll on their health but not the vaccines.
“There are people who are moving with Tuberculosis (TB), high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, kidney and lung disease,” he said.
He emphasized, however, that when there’s a pre-existing infection, it could progress into severe illness and even death as the vaccine takes two weeks to have an effect.
“If you get vaccinated when you are already incubating, the vaccine takes 2 weeks to have an effect. This means you already have the vulnerabilities for the disease to progress to severe disease and death,” he explained.
Adding: “When people with comorbidities are vaccinated, the vaccine doesn’t stop the initial diseases from growing.”
He noted that under rare circumstances, infections after vaccination could lead to death.
“And if the person gets infected after this period, then you call it a breakthrough infection. So it’s a known phenomena but it’s also very rare that such infections progress to death,” he said.
However, for public health benefit, the Doctor added, vaccination should continue.
Studies have shown that vaccines offer better immune response to the body and a longer lasting protection if one completes the 2 doses as required by some vaccines such as AstraZeneca.
“If you’ve got one, you are partially protected, and the majority of the people in Uganda are partially protected. So when you put these facts together, youwi realize that the attribution of deaths to vaccination is a weak attribute,” Driwale said.
In her statement on the response to the covid-19 resurgence of Friday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng revealed that there is no current evidence to support the allegations that fully vaccinated persons have acquired severe infection and died in Uganda, after a study was conducted between 15th to 21st June 2021 in the current wave.
Dr. Sabrina Bakeera Kitaka, a pediatrician and researcher said that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
She pointed out that some adults just fear being pricked and end up discouraging others.
“And when they get pricked and get pain, they start telling stories that they are going to get side effects. People are creating conspiracy theories that do not even function and they are excluding people who really need to benefit from the vaccines so that we can stop this pandemic before it goes out of hand,” she said.
The public has been encouraged to go to the vaccination points identified by the district task forces to address issues concerning vaccination side effects and avoid fake vaccines.
Dr. Annet Kisakye, WHO technical officer said, “We have trained our health workers who have been deployed to work at these service points and most of these issues will be addressed.”
She added that people should continue adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) amid vaccination.
“Until we reach a big population, 70-80% of the eligible persons with these covid-19 vaccines, that’s when we can tell people to ease. But now we have only reached 1% of our target population and that means the virus is still with us,” she said.
To date, 861,645 people have been vaccinated against covid-19.