European Immunization Week in Georgia
33 countries in Europe unite efforts to combat infectious deceases throughout the week28 April, 2010. Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgia along with 33 other countries of Europe is celebrating the European Immunization Week organized by the WHO Regional office for Europe from 24 April - 1 May. The Week is an annual event to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the benefits of immunization. The main focus this year is to ensure the right of every child to be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Within the framework of the Immunization Week the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia in collaboration with the National Centre for Disease Control, UNICEF and WHO, is conducting a one-week information campaign about immunization including an advertising campaign on the importance of immunization.
Immunization is one of the greatest public health innovations of mankind that every year protects millions of children from death, blindness, disability, mental retardation and other health disorders. Thanks to vaccination in 2002 WHO declared the countries of the European Region free from poliomyelitis. The activities in Europe aimed at eradication of poliomyelitis have saved up to 5 million people from paralysis.
By 2010 WHO aims at achieving elimination of measles and rubella as well as significant reduction in the number of cases of inborn rubella syndrome in Europe. To reach this goal in 2008 a measles and rubella national immunization campaign was held in Georgia according to the strategic plan worked out by WHO.
Vaccination in Georgia is administered in accordance with the national immunization calendar approved by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. In compliance with the children’s immunization calendar the Government provides for free vaccination against 10 diseases: TB, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, mumps, B-hepatitis, and B-type homophiles influenza.
Within the coming years the Government plans to start vaccination against human retroviral, pneumococcal and viral papilloma infections as well as against chickenpox.
In recent years overall improvement in immunization coverage (both traditional and new vaccines) has been observed compared to previous years. A new, improved electronic system of registration and reporting has been introduced that allows assessment of “timely” immunization. Data is also reported on a regular basis. Epidemiological monitoring has improved, modern manuals and visuals have been created, for priority diseases the case-based reimbursement methodology and computer management of the data have been introduced. The system of the immunization-related equipment supply is running smoothly.
Despite the improved immunization coverage some problems related to vaccination still remain in the country: the coverage of timely immunization of children is unsatisfactory. A number of communication challenges are also noteworthy: low awareness among parents, dissemination of inaccurate information by mass media, negative attitude to vaccination from some “popular doctors,” which often undermines the authority of the primary healthcare personnel; also questions arise (often from the interested parties) with regard to the quality of the vaccines produced in certain countries.
Within the state immunization programme only the WHO recommended, and respectively, high quality vaccines are imported and applied in Georgia.
Modern vaccines are safe and effective although any vaccine might have side effects. However, post vaccine complications are extremely rare and depend on individual specifics of the body.
The risk of post immunization undesirable developments is so insignificant compared to the threat of deterioration of health state due to the above diseases that the need and effectiveness of vaccination becomes obvious.
Vaccines are free for all within the state immunization programme. Vaccination is conducted in polyclinics and ambulatories.
Sophio Gvalia, Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, 995 77 41 83 31, firstname.lastname@example.org
National centre for Disease Control, 995 32 39 31 70 (155), email@example.com
Maya Kurtsikidze, Communications Officer, UNICEF Georgia