Challenges facing COVID-19 vaccination campaigns – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Ms. Shreya Datta, first year medical student at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in many unexpected changes and with recent feverish speculation plaguing social media regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines under development, it is time for us to recognize the challenges associated with this campaign. vaccination. At the same time, we must prepare for the preparation and large-scale deployment of vaccines in duly recognized priority groups and combat the mistrust of the general public in newly developed vaccines. In order to successively resist this dangerous virus, systematic collaboration between government, business, healthcare workers and the public is of the utmost importance.

The main detrimental factor is the manufacture and distribution of vaccines on such a scale in a relatively short period of time. We need to ensure the availability of raw materials, transport, shipping and final redistribution to local health facilities while maintaining that vaccines are stored at an optimally low temperature. Equitable distribution in accordance with the WHO accelerator law which provides for initial coverage of 20% of the population followed by a second phase of extension to the rest of the population must also be guaranteed. The daunting task of identifying priority groups on the basis of age, comorbidity and occupation also remains to be overcome.

However, the mere availability of a vaccine is not sufficient to ensure complete immunological protection, as reluctance to vaccinate turns out to be a major obstacle to obtaining herd immunity against the deadly virus. Indeed, recent surveys of 493 and 2,200 individuals suggest that only 3 in 4 people would be vaccinated if a COVID-19 vaccine were available and only 30% would like to receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Some individuals are still present who have questioned the effectiveness of the vaccines, their relative safety as well as the immunity of the vaccination as opposed to the immunity developed naturally after surviving the disease. Additionally, countries that do not have what WHO calls an effective and integrated drug regulatory system can fall prey to the theft and illegal stacking of vaccines. Substandard and falsified vaccines may appear on the market, which will increase general public mistrust and opposition to vaccination.

All of these issues can be approached in a methodical manner through strong educational campaigns and programs targeting the general public’s mistrust and ensuring that all their doubts and concerns are allayed. Doctors and health workers play a vital role in this aspect, as positive affirmations from them can dispel lingering doubts and also establish a positive attitude among the general public towards the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines. Appropriate national databases recognizing priority groups should be established as well as a national allocation and distribution plan coupled with safeguards in place to protect against theft and diversion into the black market. Only with precise planning, coordination and harmony can humanity collectively overcome this international threat and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 by 2030.


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About the Author

Ms. Shreya Datta is a first year medical student at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

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