Uganda intends to impose strict penalties on anti-vaccinators, including heavy fines for anyone who refuses to receive vaccines against the emerging coronavirus, according to CNN.
A parliamentary health committee said it was considering proposed legislation to fine or jail unvaccinated people in the East African country of about 45 million people.
Parliament said in a statement on its website: “The Parliament’s Health Committee has begun consideration of the amended Public Health Bill 2021, which seeks, among other things, to ensure mandatory vaccination against the emerging coronavirus.”
According to the draft law, those who did not receive the vaccine would be fined 4 million shillings (about $1,137) or jailed for six months.
Uganda has provided about 16 million doses of vaccines since the vaccination operations began in March last year, but the country has faced a series of lockdowns to manage the epidemic amid misinformation and reluctance to get vaccinated by anti-vaccinators.
Uganda had reopened its doors to work last month after two years of strict containment measures that led to the closure of schools and the suspension of many commercial activities.
More than 15 million Ugandan students have stopped school due to the two-year closures, which the United Nations has described as the longest disruption to educational institutions globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Asseng told MPs on Monday that the proposed 4 million Ugandan shillings fine was an amendment to the existing 2,000 shillings ($0.57) fine.
Assange cautioned that the bill seeks to “protect the vulnerable” and “create collective immunity”.
“When we introduce new vaccines, we need to vaccinate a large number of people to create herd immunity, so it is important that everyone who is supposed to get the vaccine is vaccinated,” the parliament statement quoted Assange as saying.
Parliament said that its health committee “has started interacting with various experts to enrich the bill”, but no timeline has been set for the approval of the new legislation.