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Yellow fever vaccine shortage a kick in the head to Ugandans

By Samson Ntale, For CNN
  • Fans need yellow fever vaccination certificates
  • More vaccine ordered, health official says
  • People going to neighboring countries for vaccinations

Kampala, Uganda (CNN) -- Sunday Kirunda paid $1,250 for a bus travel package to South Africa, but the 41-year-old Ugandan just can't seem to get out of his own country.

Uganda has a deep shortage of yellow fever vaccine, and that is keeping Kirunda and hundreds of soccer fans in the East African nation from attending the World Cup.

The South African mission in Uganda needs yellow fever vaccine certifications before granting visas to the World Cup, and Kirunda and others don't have them. Yellow fever is a viral infection common in the tropical regions.

"We cannot proceed for our desired once-in-a-lifetime fun because South African High Commission can only grant us visas after proving our safety against yellow fever," Kirunda told CNN.

Health authorities confirm the shortage of vaccines and have just ordered more.

Anthony Mbonye, Ugandan Health Ministry's community health commissioner, said such vaccines are "not always in large supply" because they are used by travelers and are available on demand.

But there is more demand now because of potential travelers to the World Cup, he said.

Asked whether any new stocks are expected in the country before the end of the group stages of the World Cup, Mbonye couldn't provide a time frame,

"We have just placed an order to restock."

Hundreds of soccer fans are reported to have sought yellow fever vaccination services in nearby countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

"Hundreds of Ugandan fans have been forced to return to Kampala for visas after getting vaccinated in neighboring countries," said Hood Mulaa, an official at the Akamba Bus Company.

There have been reports of bribing health workers for certificates, but officials at the South African mission in Kampala realize the problem and are ensuring that no one will travel without a proven vaccination certificate.

As for Kirunda, he said on Thursday he's been waiting for a vaccine for days.

"If I do not get it by the end of Friday, I will do as other people have done, by going to Nairobi and return to get the visa."