Ministry of Health, USAID, UNICEF and WHO launch “Protected Together – Vaccines Work” Information and Vaccination Caravan

19 October 2022
People gathering for information in front of the COVID-19 caravan in Kumanovo
UNICEF/North Macedonia/Georgiev/2022

Kumanovo, 19 October: The Ministry of Health with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) today kicked off an information and vaccination caravan that will travel to 24 communities throughout the country over the next eight days.

Under the slogan “Protected Together – Vaccines Work” the caravan will bring trusted information on all routine childhood vaccines, seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines to local communities. Immunization teams will be travelling with the caravan, offering on-spot vaccination against COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health announced the availability of flu vaccines, reiterating that people over 65 and those with underlying conditions are highly encouraged to express their interest in vaccination at the website www.vakcinacija.mk to get an appointment for vaccination at the nearest health centre, also encouraging those most-at risk for serious complications from COVID-19 to get vaccinated.  

"Vaccination against seasonal flu is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Health in the field of preventive healthcare, with the aim of timely protection and prevention of more severe forms, complications and death, especially among risk groups. For this purpose, we provided 40 thousand vaccines free-of-charge, which starting today, will be avalable at the Public Health Centres, and at three vaccination points in Skopje at polyclinics Idadija, Gjorce Petrov and Bit Pazar. These are quadrivalent vaccines against seasonal flu, from the company Abbott from the Netherlands. Free vaccination against seasonal flu is optional, and intended for: seniors over 65, people with chronic diseases, health workers, pregnant women, children aged 6 months to 5 years. Symbolically, with this vaccination caravan, which we are launching today, we are jointly sending a message about the importance of vaccination. We would like to reiterate that the citizens from the risk groups can register for vaccination free-of-charge through the website: vakcinacija.mk.“, said Health Minister Bekim Sali.

For more than two centuries, vaccines have helped keep people healthy—from the very first vaccine developed to protect against smallpox to the newest vaccines used to prevent severe cases of COVID-19. Since then, families and communities have entrusted vaccines to protect everyone from new-borns to the elderly.

"Vaccines are one of the most impactful scientific innovations of all time, helping to protect generations of people against infectious diseases throughout the course of their lives. A culmination of over 200 years of research, worldwide collaboration and rigorous testing has led to the development of safe and effective vaccines for more than 25 diseases. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we all are too familiar with the loss, fear and uncertainty that accompany disease outbreaks. Thanks to vaccines against diseases from COVID-19 to seasonal flu, we have the tools to keep our loved ones protected.“, said Ms. Jeri Dible, USAID Mission Director.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a huge strain on health systems and services, and the disruptions reversed years of hard-won progress on routine immunizations on children. For example, the percentage of children who received their second dose measles dropped from 93,4 per cent in 2019 to 68,5 per cent in 2020 and slightly recovered in 2021 to 80,4 per cent.

Vaccines work, they protect children, adults and communities. They have saved more lives than any other invention in human history. We know this for a fact. In the last 60 seconds, routine childhood vaccines have saved five more lives. Thanks to high vaccination rates in the past, parents today have been fortunate to grow up without seeing family or friends die or suffer life-long disability from diseases like measles or polio. Ironically, this is one of the reasons why some believe that vaccine preventable diseases are no longer a threat. But we cannot be complacent. We are appealing to families to get informed and do not delay vaccinating your children. When you vaccinate your child, you protect your child, other children and your community,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative.

Both COVID-19 and the flu are highly contagious respiratory viruses and have very similar symptoms, such as cough, fever, shortness of breath. Although both diseases can cause serious illness, COVID-19, especially in those who have not been vaccinated and/or have not been previously infected, is more likely to lead to health complications, hospital treatment, and in some cases death, compared to the seasonal flu – that's why it's important to get tested and vaccinated against both.

We are not where we were one year ago – the pandemic is changing, but it’s not over yet. With the cold season approaching, COVID-19 and influenza are back in our lives. We need to remain vigilant and keep using the tools known to protect us, including vaccination. We know that the vaccines are safe and effective. In addition to reducing the risk of getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19, the vaccine can also mitigate the debilitating impacts of long COVID. This is yet another reason to get vaccinated. WHO encourages everyone eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to take the full course of life-saving vaccine including a booster dose when offered. Keep safe. Get vaccinated.”, said Dr Anne Johansen, Special Representative and Head of Office a.i. WHO North Macedonia.

Routine childhood vaccines, seasonal flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines are available through all Health centres and vaccination points throughout the country [Адреси на здравствени домови – Министерство за Здравство (zdravstvo.gov.mk)] and vaccination is available every working day.

The caravan started today in Kumanovo, Cherkezi and Staro Nagoricani and will continue over the next weeks in the following locations:

  • 20 October: Strumica Square [10:00-12:00]; Novo Selo, in front of the Hospital [12:30-14:30] and Vasilevo, in front of the Culture House [15:00-17:00]
  • 21 October: Veles, in front of the Theatre [10:00-12:00]; Chaska, Municipality Square [12:30-14:30]; and Buzalkovo, near the Municipality [15:00-17:00]
  • 22 October: Prilep, in front of the Old Bazaar [10:00-12:00]; Dolneni, in front of the Municipality [12:30-14:30]; and Krivogastani, in front of the Municipality [15:00-17:00]
  • 23 October: Bitola, Saat Kula Square [10:00-12:00]; Novaci, near the market Shik [12:30-14:30]; and Mogila, [15:00-17:00]
  • 24 October: Ohrid, Krushevska Republika Square [10:00-12:00]; Mesheishta, near the Training Ground (Polygon) [12:30-14:30]; and Kosel[15:00-17:00]
  • 25 October: Tetovo Square [10:00-12:00]; Bogovinje, in front of the Municipality [12:30-14:30]; and Tearce, School Yard of Kiril Pejcinovikj Elementary School [15:00-17:00]
  • 26 October: Skopje Square [10:00-12:00]; Saraj, in front of the Elementary School Dituria [12:30-14:30]; and Rakotinci, in front of the Municipality [15:00-17:00]

Media contacts

Suzie Pappas Capovska
Tel: (02) 3231-244
Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-172

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