COVID-19 vaccine caravan brings information and vaccines closer to citizens

01 April 2022
Health professional is preparing a vaccine for administration
UNICEF/North Macedonia/Georgiev/2022

Skopje, 1 April 2022 - Deputy Minister of Health Vladimir Rendevski, USAID North Macedonia Country Representative Erik Janowsky, UNICEF Deputy Representative Artur Ayvazov, the Mayor of Vrapchshte Isen Shabani and WHO representatives visited the village of Negotino in the Municipality of Vrapchishte, one of the last locations of the COVID-19 vaccination and information caravan.  

The caravan will end in two days, having visited a total of 14 urban and rural areas throughout the country. In addition to providing opportunities for local communities to get their COVID19 vaccination, medical teams, together with Red Cross volunteers and students from medical associations, have provided local communities with trusted information on the COVID-19 vaccination, including the benefits and risks of delay. Information was also shared about the locations and working hours of the nearest health centers where vaccines are available for everyone. 

"According to the latest data from the weekly report of the Institute of Public Health, about 41.2% of the total population in the country has been vaccinated with two doses. A large part of the population remains unprotected from possible severe illness of COVID-19. Unvaccinated people have a higher risk of death, compared to those who have been vaccinated. Therefore, citizens should not hesitate and the decision to vaccinate should not be delayed," said Deputy Minister of Health Vladimir Rendevski.

Activities designed to increase vaccine uptake over the last period have proved that different approaches work in different communities, which is why there is a need for a tailor-made approach, specific to the needs of local populations, to ensure easy access to vaccines and reliable information on COVID-19. During the caravan visit in Novo Selo, as many as 50 people were vaccinated in one day; in Shuto Orizari 35 people were vaccinated, compared to only 4 people having received the shot in the two weeks prior to the event. Over 200 people have been vaccinated so far at community events organized as part of the caravan.

The caravan and other targeted interventions have contributed to an increased interest in protection from COVID-19. Last Friday Health centers reported over 11% increase in daily average vaccinations at their facilities, compared to the previous week.

"I am fully up to date with my vaccines, and I encourage everyone eligible to get theirs. COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. They help stop the spread of the disease, and are highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19 infection. This is why we support efforts, such as this caravan, to reach more people, particularly vulnerable populations and at-risk communities” said USAID Country Representative Erik Janowsky.

The Ministry of Health and its partners will continue working on identifying barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in different communities, as well as addressing these barriers through complementary tailor-made activities that will bring vaccines and information closer to citizens, especially vulnerable populations.

“High vaccine coverage in some countries, combined with the lower severity of Omicron, is driving a dangerous narrative that the pandemic is over, which is not the case. The only sustainable way out of the pandemic is to reach high vaccine coverage in all countries, with a particular focus on reaching the most vulnerable people, providing protection against severe illness caused by COVID-19 for all families and ensuring safe environments for children”, said UNICEF Deputy Representative Artur Ayvazov.

Ministry of Health has launched the COVID-19 caravan with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Health Organization (WHO) and United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It started from Shuto Orizari on the 21st of March and will continue to Kichevo tomorrow, ending in Struga on April 3rd.  Apart from the events organized as part of the vaccination caravan, citizens can get vaccinated at the nearest health center every working day from 08:00 to 14:00. The vaccination point at Bucharest Polyclinic in Skopje is open until 20:00 from Monday to Friday.

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Irina Ivanovska
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