Everything you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination in Armenia
No one is safe until everyone is safe
Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is one of the largest mass undertakings in human history - and efforts are well underway.
But no one is safe until everyone is safe.
That's why UNICEF is working with WHO, partners and governments across the world through the COVAX Facility, a global effort to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach the most in need - whoever they are and wherever they live.
In 2021, COVAX aims to make 2 billion safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines available to those in the world that need them the most.
As part of COVAX, UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, drawing on decades of experience as the largest vaccine buyer in the world.
Where and how does Armenia procure COVID vaccines?
In September, 2020, the Ministry of Health joined the COVAX FACILITY initiative, with the purpose of securing the procurement of vaccines against COVID-19. The Ministry of Health is engaged in negotiations with all possible vaccine producers and international partners, with a view tj procure vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). At the same time negotiations are also underway to acquire the Sputnik-V vaccine.
When shall vaccination against COVID commence in Armenia?
To this day 2,060 vaccine doses (covering 1,030 persons) have been donated to Armenia by the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The current scope of vaccination includes health professionals involved in treating patiens with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in institutions providing hospital care.
Negotiations with the purpose of procuring vaccines against COVID-19 continue.
When shall vaccines become available in our country? What accounts for their selection?
Within the framework of the COVAX FACILTY initiative countries receive regular offers of the vaccines. To this day four vaccines have been offered: AstraZeneca, Sanofi/GSK, Pfizer/Biotech, Novavax. Our country declined the Pfizer/Biotech vaccine because of inadequate cold storage capacity (at least -70°C required). At the same time, negotiations are also being conducted to acquire the Sputnik-V vaccine.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated first and why?
Vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) shall be carried out among at risk population groups, those most vulnerable to the coronavirus disease, namely:
- Residents and staff of senior citizen institutions, staff of other institutions providing social protection;
- Health professionals;
- Persons 65 years of age and above, in descending order from those 80 and over;
- Persons with chronic diseases in the 16-64 age bracket.
Will vaccines be free of charge? Will vaccines be available to those willing to get vaccinated against COVID?
Vaccination with the stock procured by the state shall be free of charge.
Will vaccines be available to others willing to get vaccinated against COVID, will the service be free or paid and will the MoH oversee it, if yes, then how?
Depending on the epidemiological situation with the coronavirus disease and availablity of the vaccine, vaccination may also be offered to other population groups: faculty members, teachers, emergency administration staff, military service personnel, judicial staff, public servants.
Vaccination with the stock procured by the state shall be free of charge.
Private organisations may offer and charge for vaccination.
Should pregnant women be vaccinated?
Pregnant women, compared to those who are not, are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Therefore, the WHO recommends pregnant women with an unavoidable high risk of contracting COVID-19, for example: medical professionals, to discuss vaccination options with their physician.
Please keep in mind that research into the disease is still underway, and this advice may be reviewed upon accumulaing more data. We shall inform you respectively, once more knowledge is acquired. Please address whatever concerns you may have to your physician.
Misinformation is spreading faster than the truth. Before you share online, consider the 5 W’s.
What is the morbidity rate in Armenia among children? When shall children be covered by vaccination?
To this moment 7,431 children have contracted coronavirus, amounting to 4,12% of the total infected population.
So far, no COVID-19 vaccine trials have been conducted among children below 16 years of age. Which means it is yet not clear whether those vaccines are safe or effective for children.
The WHO has announced that the industry is already commencing research in lower age groups.
Once those results are obtained, the pharmaceutical companies may begin to submit recommendation with respect to vaccinating children against COVID-19. We shall update you once more information becomes available.
In the meantime, it is important that your child continues to receive his/her regular pediatric vaccinations.
What are the repeat infection case indicators?
Considering the mutability of this pathogen, scientists around the world face the question of the possibility and incidence of repeat infections caused by the new coronavirus. With this purpose an epidemiological study has been launched in Armenia of repeat positive PCR test results of the coronavirus infection on the record.
Information regarding all persons, who had tested positive for COVID-19 two or more times with the use of the PCR method, has been downloaded from the AR-MED electronic system. Those with the interval between the 2 tests of less than 90 days were excluded from the list. From among the remaining 101 individuals only 73 (73%) took part in a voluntary study. In 36 out of the 73 cases (49%) both instances of the disease had an asymptomatic/light course. In 29 instances (40%) the first asymptomatic/light case was followed by the second, accompanied by pneumonia. In 7 instances (10%) the first case, accompanied by pneumonia, was followed by the second, which had an asymptomatic/light course. Pneumonia in both instances was confirmed in the case of just one person (1%), who had lupus and diabetes melitus. As for the clinical presentation, the most frequent symptoms were fever above 37°C (25%), muscular pain (8%) and loss of olfactory facility (5.5%). The coincidence of the remaining symptoms did not exceed 4%.
The study thus implemented does not allow to conclusively clarify whether cases in question may be deemed repeat infections or constitute relapses? An in-depth epidemiological study with the use if international methods shall be required to confirm a case of repeat infection.
Will I get side effects?
Side effects are the body's response to the vaccine and a sign that your body is building immune protection.
Common side effects observed with COVID-19 vaccines include:
- Some pain and swelling on the arm where you receive the vaccine.
- Chills or feeling feverish.
- Feeling sick (nausea).
- Joint pain or muscle ache.
These side effects typically go away within a few days.
After you have been vaccinated, you will have to stay at the vaccination center for 20-30 minutes for observation. This is to monitor your reaction to the vaccine and make sure help is on hand if you do experience any severe side effects.
Severe side effects are rare. But, if they do happen they are most likely to do so within the first 30 minutes after being vaccinated. Waiting in the center during this period, means that medical workers will be able to treat you immediately if you experience any severe side-effects.
Do I need to wear a mask once I’ve had the vaccine?
Yes. After being vaccinated for COVID-19 you should continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and keep physical distance from others.
This is because no vaccine is 100% effective. In addition, while COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective at stopping people developing the virus, we don't yet know whether they prevent people from passing infection onto others.
This means that, until we know more, it’s vital that everyone who gets the vaccine continues to take precautions such as physical distancing, consistent use of face masks, regular handwashing with soap and clean water, and avoiding crowded places.
I've had COVID-19. Do I still need a vaccine?
Yes. WHO recommends that people who have had suspected or confirmed COVID-19 still get vaccinated.
This is because we still do not know how strong the protection that people develop after recovering from COVID-19 is - or how long it lasts.
This means that if you've had COVID-19 in the past, you should still get vaccinated
If I have COVID-19 symptoms when I am due to get vaccinated, should I go?
No. If you have COVID-19, or symptoms that suggest you may have COVID-19, do not go to your vaccination appointment.
This is because you could spread the virus to others at the vaccination site.
You can get vaccinated when it has been 14 days since you last showed COVID-19 symptoms.
How quickly could COVID-19 vaccines stop the pandemic?
Vaccines are a gamechanger in the fight against COVID-19. But, they are not a silver bullet and won’t stop the pandemic immediately.
Vaccination works as a protective shield - shielding the vaccinated person, and those around, them from the virus. People who are vaccinated protect those who are not.
As more people get vaccinated, the protection within a community builds - and the circulation of a disease is stopped or slowed. This is called ‘herd immunity’.
But, the massive global demand for COVID-19 vaccines means that it will take months - or even years - to vaccinate enough people to build herd immunity globally.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are the fastest and most effective way to get the lives of children and families back to normal again. But we must do what we can to help the process and continue protecting our families, and one another, by:
Washing your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, for 40 seconds - as often as you can.
Keeping 6 feet distance from other people.
Meeting people in well ventilated, or outdoor spaces
Wearing a mask when you can’t keep your distance from others, or are inside a public space.
How is UNICEF helping to in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.
This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government