Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda has kept schools closed to minimize outbreaks of the virus. No other country in the world has kept schools closed as long as Uganda and it is estimated that almost 15 million Ugandan children and youth have lost close to two years of schooling with long-term consequences predicted for both individuals and society as a whole. In addition, school closings have contributed to a more than tripling of the teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda, which was already amongst the highest in the world. To accelerate COVID-19 vaccination and allow schools to reopen, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated SEK 165 million (US$19 million) to UNICEF.
To date, despite access to vaccines, less than 5% of Uganda’s priority risk groups are vaccinated against COVID-19. Sida’s funding will allow UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ugandan government, WHO, and other partner organizations, to initiate a nationwide vaccination campaign that will run through February of 2022 and help ensure that more than five million vaccine doses nearing expiration in late January are utilized promptly.