Erida Nelaj1, Iria Preza1, Fuat Toptani1, Erjon Muhaxhiri1, Gjergji Roshi1, Anxhela Shehu1, Silva Bino1, Albana Fico1
1Institute of Public Health, Tirana, Albania.
Ensuring immunization services is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks and for reducing the severe cases and hospitalizations.
According to a guide prepared by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) based on NITAG decisions it has been carried out prioritization process in terms of personal and work performed by HCW and age groups starting from the elderly and continuing with younger ageswho are more likely to have severe forms of the disease.
Vaccination against COVID-19 started on 11 January 2021 with the Comirnaty® vaccine (Pfizer -BioNTech) for the most defined priority groups of health workers such as health workers of COVID-19 hospitals, of laboratories diagnosing COVID-19; health workers who perform sampling or nasopharyngeal tampons and conduct field investigation; health workers who work in emergency services and intensive care and the ones working in infectious disease, pneumology and pediatrics services of infectious diseases.
Vaccines in Albania are mainly delivered through primary health care units all over the country. The number of doses and the challenges posed to preserve the safety and storage of the vaccine dictated a new vaccination process in common centers already opened in 10 prefectures.
This process put primary health care workers included in vaccination and others in another environment.To face this challenge,guidelines and efforts were made on how to set up the process together with guidelines on vaccines storage conditions, distribution and process of preparing and administration.
Another challenge was related to lack of possibility of classroom training but online trainings were organized for training of trainers and combined with site training before starting the vaccination process in every vaccination point to face such challenge.
So far, around 400 epidemiologists, medical doctors and nurses who deal with vaccinations have been trained. Training is a process still ongoing in relation to process itself but also to the different types of vaccines expected to be used in the country.
Not all vaccines for priority groups could be offered to vaccination points especially for the most vulnerable such as those living in long term facilities, people 90+ or 80+ of age, or those with underlying conditions so the vaccines were offered at the place of living by a well-trained vaccination team. Another plan on how to best offer the vaccines without increasing the cost is ongoing.
Until March 1st, the number of vaccine doses arrived in the country is 32,760 and till March 3rd have been vaccinated 15,115 persons at least with one dose of vaccine. From them there are 678 persons that already got the second dose.
Keywords: COVID-19, immunization, outbreak, vaccination.