U.S. Embassy Kampala
September 6, 2021
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown Marking Arrival of United States Donation of 647,080 COVID-19 Vaccines for Uganda
(as prepared for delivery at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda)
On behalf of the American people, President Biden, our many supporting U.S. agencies, and the U.S. Mission to Uganda, I am proud to deliver these 647,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to the people of Uganda. These donated vaccines are part of the United States’ pledge to quickly provide at least 25 million doses to the African continent of an initial donation of 80 million doses globally.
These vaccines are just one facet of the United States’ comprehensive support for Uganda’s effort to combat COVID-19. To date, the United States has contributed 110 million dollars in the multi-faceted effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Uganda and save lives. Well before COVID-19’s arrival in Uganda, medical and public health experts from the U.S. Mission in Uganda have worked hand-in-hand with Ugandan health professionals to prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19.
This ongoing collaboration builds on our decades-long health partnerships in Uganda focusing on HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), maternal and child health, emerging infectious diseases and disease surveillance, laboratory systems strengthening, supply chain, and building Uganda’s human capital in the health sector.
Over the past almost 18 months, globally, nations, organizations, and individuals have come together to stem the spread of COVID-19. Collectively, we have made important strides, especially in developing several safe and effective vaccines, but we will not be safe until everyone has adequate access to those vaccines. We live in an interconnected world, and diseases do not respect borders; therefore, we are all in this together. The United States recognizes our capacity and is leading the COVID-19 response efforts worldwide and will continue to do so. This vaccine delivery is yet another example of our commitment to helping Uganda overcome the COVID-19 disease threat.
While we wait for enough vaccines to become available for every eligible person to get vaccinated in Uganda and globally, there is still much work to do. Here in Uganda, in America, and throughout the world, some people are choosing the risk of disease over the protection of a vaccine, resulting in avoidable death and illness around the globe as well as impediments to resuming many of the activities we enjoy.
Vaccines are not new; they have been in use for over 200 years and are often required internationally to enter and exit various countries, for children to attend school, for employment, among others. It is safe to say that all of us gathered here today, with very few exceptions, have received multiple vaccinations over the course of our lifetimes. Very few individuals may indeed experience adverse side effects from vaccines, medicines, and other medical interventions. Still, it has been shown time and time again by millions of vaccinated people, doctors, governments, science, and history that the rewards of vaccination outweigh the minute risks. Vaccines are among the most cost-effective health interventions we have to prevent disease and death worldwide.
Although they are new, the COVID-19 vaccines are no different. The top scientists and scientific and health organizations in the world have determined these COVID-19 vaccines to be very safe for eligible groups of people, and thus far, after more than 5.4 billion doses, including 146 million doses of Moderna vaccine having been given around the world, the statistics prove this to be accurate.
Do not let fear or misinformation guide your decision to choose the risk of illness or death over protection. Where you get your information matters because misinformation is driving a significant amount of fear and hesitation globally. Get your information from a reliable source like the Ministry of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization websites.
Journalists: make sure you are reporting accurate information about COVID and COVID vaccines. Health workers and teachers: protect your patients and your students and lead by example. For those over the age of 50 and those with underlying health risks –including those living with AIDS or who are HIV positive, science says your risk of dying from COVID-19 if infected is exponentially higher than the risk of side effects from the COVID vaccine, so don’t take a chance–your families and your country need you.
Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties, teachers, and others: make sure you only circulate credible information, or you risk deterring those you love from choosing protection. If you don’t know something, then look it up or ask a verified source–don’t contribute to the problem, be the solution.
I implore each and every one of you, as these vaccines are utilized and as we await the pending arrival of additional vaccines from the U.S. and other countries, please work to educate yourself and your loved ones about the importance of this vaccine and the protection it provides so that when the vaccines are available, there is no hesitation to get vaccinated. Making an educated decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine is the first step toward doing your part to make the world safe because none of us are safe until we are all safe.