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Refugees decline to take Covid-19 vaccines over myths

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto

Adjumani district authorities have expressed concern over hesitancy among South Sudan refugees for the consent to Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Authorities warned that the low turn up for the vaccination by the refugees may affect the opening of schools next year for the health procedure measures.

The district chairman Mr. Ben Anyama disclosed that he was dismayed to learn that only 6% of the refugees’ population in Adjumani have been vaccinated, yet the total population of refugees is about 213,000.

Anyama told Juba Monitor yesterday that out of the cumulative number of 933 people who have so far tested positive of covid-19 in Adjumani, 137 were refugees constituting 14 per cent.

“I am concerned about the issue of low vaccination among refugees, because when we report to government, we report about the holistic population of Adjumani and this low uptake of covid-19 vaccine may have a negative lasting impact on us, so please mobilize the population to take covid-19 vaccination”, the chairman lamented.

He appealed to the Officeof UNHCR to increase surveillance and scale up vaccination among the refugee population in order to get the target set by the ministry of health so as to ease the lockdown.

The district Health officer Mr. Dominic Drametu however, appealed to the entire population to embrace the national wide vaccination exercise so that the government could reopen schools.

Also he declared that the district has received 2100 doses of the Modena vaccine from the US which he noted were in the same group with Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson.

Drametu said that with the arrival of Modena, all persons from the age of 18 and especially school going students and every person to be vaccinated regardless of those target groups.

The Adjumani district education officer Mr. Robert Dima revealed that, the effects of covid-19 pandemic were biting and has left a lot of negative impact stating that there were rising cases of teenage pregnancy to the extent of having primary two girls getting married and pregnant.

“There are 41 cases of abortion registered, 3 fatalities. We don’t know when schools will open. My worry is if teachers are not getting vaccinated, it may affect the reopening of schools especially if the percentage required is not achieved that means more young girls will be impregnated”, Dima said.

Mr. Robert Andeyo the settlement commandant revealed that the biggest challenge was the myth and cultural belief by the refugee communities.

“We are really trying our best, in this vaccination. we are really in running battles with them because they have a strong attachment to their culture, they always attach these vaccinations to functionality of their reproductive systems”, Andeoye stated.

He said one of the new strategies was to ensure that all new refugee leadership got vaccinated for them to qualify as leaders.

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