Nurse Vanja serves as a stable support for parents and children

Thanks to teamwork and dedication, the Primary Healthcare Centre in Mojkovac has been the routine immunization champion for years

UNICEF Montenegro
Vanja Damjanovic
UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic/2022
27 July 2022

MOJKOVAC, 27 July 2022 - Valentina “Vanja” Damjanovic is the head nurse for immunization at the Primary Healthcare Centre in Mojkovac. Vanja is part of a dedicated team, thanks to which this small municipality in the north of Montenegro is recording significantly higher rates of immunization of children compared to the national average.

In the vaccination clinic, cheerful displays on the walls and smiles on the faces of paediatric nurses welcome children and parents who regularly come to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases.

“Immunization cannot be carried out properly without teamwork” – is the first thing this nurse, beloved by parents and the youngest patients in Mojkovac, says.

Vanja patiently explains all the steps – from entering the Primary Healthcare Centre to receiving the vaccine – to all parents who have doubts about immunization.

“The children are first examined by the paediatrician, after which they come to me. They bring their health insurance card, a ‘yellow’ vaccination card and a printout from the electronic register of immunizations. We always ensure that we write down the type of vaccine the child has received on the report. My phone number is always at the bottom of the paper,” Vanja says.

Dom zdravlja Mojkovac
UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic/2022
Teamwork is key to championship results

After that, she explains to the parents what type of vaccine the child is to receive, whether it is administered in the muscle of the arm or leg, etc.

“I always point out the expected adverse reactions and that, after certain vaccines, there may be an increase in body temperature. I prepare them by saying that these are expected occurrences and I provide the necessary advice. The child and parents usually spend 15 minutes with us in the waiting room. In the end, I always say – whatever you may need, at any time – just give me a call, and I  will give you advice. Everyone accepts it, they call me, there are no problems at all,” Vanja says.

She invites other colleagues who are not directly involved in immunization to also be part of the team and help ensure that every child is protected from diseases.

Immunization coverage in Montenegro is not at a satisfactory level, bearing in mind that the projected coverage goal necessary for protection against epidemics stands at 95 per cent. The coverage with the first dose of the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella is particularly low, which, at the national level in 2021 at the time of the preparation of the report of the Institute for Public Health on immunizations carried out, amounted to slightly more than 18 per cent, while in some municipalities the coverage percentages stood far below that. Bearing in mind such low coverage rates with the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, it is necessary to continuously strengthen the system at all levels of health care to achieve the targeted vaccination coverage. It is also necessary to continuously empower and invite parents while informing them about the importance of routine immunization to protect the health of children against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic
Let's protect our children from infectious diseases

According to a public opinion survey conducted in January of this year by Ipsos, with the support of the European Union and UNICEF, the majority of citizens agree that children should be vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), with three out of five citizens fully agreeing with this claim. According to this poll, citizens believe that paediatricians and other doctors and medical staff are the best experts on this issue.

The MMR immunization campaign is part of a two-year health initiative financed by the EU and implemented by the Ministry of Health with UNICEF support. Its aim is to support the country in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic effectively while, at the same time, ensuring that routine immunization happens so that an epidemic of vaccine-preventable diseases does not occur.