Administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kosovo and several examples from other countries

Administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kosovo and several examples from other countries

 

From March 13, 2020, when the first cases of COVID-19 appeared until April 28, 2021, about 104,717 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Kosovo, with 9,485 active and 2,153 fatalities of this virus. Among the region’s countries, Kosovo is the last country to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, respectively, on March 28, 2021. The number of acquired doses is 24 thousand from AstraZeneca Company. According to the Ministry of Health, as of April 23, there were 22,096 people vaccinated.

The Government adopted the State Plan on Vaccination against COVID-19, initially envisaged by the Law on Prevention and Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic. This health plan has foreseen vaccination in three phases:

First phase ·        12,825 persons (or 95% of health workers)

·        1,187 people (or 95% of the residents in nursing homes and social workers),

·        31,350 persons (or 95% of population over 80 years of age).

·        vaccination of 5,938 persons (or 95% of persons with chronic conditions).

Second Phase The vaccination of persons ages 65-69
Third phase Persons with chronic diseases, teachers, and Kosovo Security Force members.

 

The State Vaccination Plan against COVID-19 is based on the expectation of acquiring 54,000 vaccine doses as initially planned and reported to the public, instead of the actual 24,000 that arrived in Kosovo thus far. Due to this, the plan should be reviewed based on the number of doses secured, because it is impossible to carry out a two-dose vaccination of one category with such a low number of doses, and not vaccinate another category (also priority), even with a single dose.

Although the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses secured by other countries is much higher, there are still some good practices from which Kosovo needs to draw lessons in this regard. The countries included in a brief D+ paper that serve as examples of vaccine administration are: Luxembourg, Lithuania, France, Greece, Albania and North Macedonia.

In one word, in Luxembourg the priority for vaccination, among others, were ambulance drivers, in France in the first phase firefighters were vaccinated, Greece put in the priority list the employees of the administration who provide direct services to citizens, while Albania gave priority in terms of vaccination to teachers as well. In addition to these categories, Kosovo should include in its priority list for vaccination, groups such as: bus drivers and driver assistants, field police officers, bank counter workers, security workers at clinics involved in the treatment of COVID-19, laboratory and pharmacy employees, groups that are directly at risk of infection and transmission of the virus.

The rationale behind this is that the number of doses of vaccines is low and their distribution should be based on the assessment of the infection risk in the vaccination target groups.

In this regard, some of the D+ recommendations published in a separate paper on the distribution of vaccines, which should be taken into account by the Ministry of Health and the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, are as follows:

  1. Vaccination of one category that is considered a priority should not include two doses, if the number of acquired doses is insufficient to vaccinate another priority category. For example residents of nursing homes, the elderly, persons with chronic diseases, etc. should be vaccinated with a single dose in the first phase;
  2. The first phase of vaccination should include groups who have daily contact with citizens, such as:
  • Drivers of ambulances
  • Cashiers at large markets frequently visited by citizens
  • Bus, train drivers and Conductors
  • Taxi drivers
  • Teachers
  • Firefighters and Traffic police officers
  • Pharmacy and laboratory workers
  • Front desk officers in the administration

 

  1. Prior to vaccination, persons should be tested using a rapid test to determine if they recovered from the infection in the last two months, and if confirmed, the persons should be vaccinated in the second or third stage.
  2. The Ministry of Health should use the method of calling people from Medical Centers as it is difficult for the elderly to use online methods.
  3. The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) should regularly publish data on the number of vaccinated persons, by category, and post them on its website. The latter should be supplemented with data on the process, including how many people are vaccinated, which categories and where, so that citizens can have an overview of how the process is progressing.

 

Kosovo should follow the practices of the above-mentioned countries in the distribution of vaccines within the country and prioritization of different groups, for the purposes of vaccination.

 

Disclaimer:

This article was produced under the EU funded project “Contribution to exposing flaws in institutional efforts to fighting COVID-19 pandemic through new legislation pieces and public contracts” implemented by Democracy Plus (D+). Its contents are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.