ENTEBBE, Uganda: The Ugandan parliament is debtaing a bill in which people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 would be fined, and those who fail to pay their fines could be imprisoned.
Only some 16 million vaccinations have been administered, out of a population of 45 million, since the East African country began administering COVID-19 jabs nearly a year ago, with officials blaming widespread hesitancy.
Parliament’s house health committee has begun scrutinizing Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021, which seeks to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory and proposes a fine of 4 million Ugandan shillings ($1,139) for those who do not comply.
In a statement on its website, the Ugandan parliament posted, “According to the proposal, those who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 will be fined 4 million shillings or (receive) a jail term of six months.”
The parliament statement quoted health minister Jane Ruth Aceng as telling lawmakers on the committee that mandatory vaccinations would ensure enough people become vaccinated.
But the statement did not say when the proposed law was likely to be brought before all members of parliament for a vote.
Uganda fully re-opened its economy in January after two years of anti-pandemic measures, which included curfews, businesses and school closures, as well as the closure of borders.
Despite helping to curb the pandemic, the measures drew widespread criticism from Ugandans, as their businesses and livelihoods were affected.
Health ministry data show the country has seen some 163,000 cases of COVID-19 and 3,500 deaths.