Uganda has suggested severe penalties for anti-vaxxers in a new bill being considered by parliament, as the government clamps down on its Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
“Parliament’s Committee on Health has started the consideration of the Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that among other things seeks to ensure mandatory COVID-19 vaccination,” the parliament said in a statement on its website.
“According to the proposal, those who do not get vaccinated against Covid-19 will be fined Shs 4 million (around $1,137) or a jail term of six months.” the parliament said.
The Parliament statement on Tuesday however did not specify when the new bill will be presented to its members for ratification.
Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, told the Parliament’s Committee on Health that the change is significant since the maximum penalties under the Public Health Act is Shs 2,000, which needs to be revised.
“The bill has a section on vaccination and immunisation as a public health measure to protect the vulnerable. When we introduce new vaccines, we need to get a mass of people so we create mass immunity. It is important that whoever is supposed to be vaccinated, is vaccinated,” she said.
The East African country began delivering COVID-19 immunizations over a year ago, but just approximately 16 million shots had been provided in a population of 45 million. The limited coverage is being blamed on widespread hesitation, according to officials.