COVID-19: Boost Immunization Coverage and Equity during the Pandemic

25 June 2021, by Minh NGUYEN

 

Fear of being infected with COVID-19 virus leads to the reluctance to access immunization services. The disruption, even for short periods of time, results in more unimmunized people and increases the likelihood of spreading vaccine-preventable, epidemic-prone diseases such as measles. Therefore, it is essential to maintain the immunization activities while limiting the transmission of COVID-19. At GaneshAID, we foster innovative approaches to adapt immunization service delivery in the pandemic of Covid-19, ensuring the immunization coverage and sustaining the target of protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Increasing Inequality in On-time Vaccination Coverage during the Pandemic 

 

Obstacles in providing childhood vaccinations in hard-to-reach populations, the emergence of “vaccine hesitancy” and other barriers and challenges related to health service accessibility and acceptability contributes to vaccination inequalities around the world. Lack of administered vaccinations as recommended place children at failure to receive timely protection from preventable diseases when they are most vulnerable and at risk of never fully completing the vaccination course.

 

By June 2021, the whole world recorded nearly 181 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, nine times higher than that of August 2020 with 20 million cases. The pandemic has impacted the on-time vaccination coverage, leading to the inequality in accessing all the recommended immunizations in vulnerable settings.

 

| It is crucial to timely address the gaps of disparities and maintain progress of immunization coverage during the pandemic. |

Urgent Actions to Boost Immunization Coverage and Equity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

The World Health Organization has issued a Guidance on routine immunization services during COVID-19 pandemic which highlights that routine immunization sessions should be maintained as much as COVID-19 response measures allow. Countries are recommended to seek holistics measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases. Such actions must be aligned with national and subnational strategies to sustain the health services in the pandemic.

GaneshAID’s solution for surge capacity to adapt rapidly immunization services in Covid-19 pandemic

 

| Our solution is expected to be a daily companion for vaccinators’ confidence in their performance, contributing to address the inequalities of on-time vaccination in the pandemic. |

 

Given the need to rapidly communicate and train vaccinators as well as the difficulty of grouping for face-to-face training, GaneshAID has developed an innovative m-learning solution targeted to vaccinators and their supervisors. The innovative approach included:

  1. Provision of work-related advice to cope with Covid-19 pandemic
  2. Immediate dissemination of evolving instructions adapted from national guidance on the reorganization of immunization services
  3. Support training and m-learning activities.
  4. Intensifying peer-learning and best practicing sharing
  5. Cultivating vaccinators community of practices
  6. Bi-direction communication between national EPI and vaccinators.

 

In collaboration with the Subject Matter Experts from the country, UNICEF and WHO, GaneshAID developed suitable content for micro-learning programs and database of relevant technical resources. The innovative solution has been designed to build the confidence of last mile health workers during their important performance to maintain the routine immunization in Covid-19 pandemic.

 

|The solution is designed to digitalize the learning content and technical documents. The solution empowers vaccinators to perform their roles in maintaining the routine immunization in COVID-19 pandemic with highest confidence. |

 

Vaccinators and their supervisors benefit from the solution with key features:

  • Social learning network with a Facebook like page, WhatsApp like instant message and forums for vaccinator community to share experience, lessons learnt and activities, enhancing the
  • Rapid learning with bite-sized knowledge capsules on how to proceed an immunization session in the situation of pandemic
  • A database of technical resources relevant to vaccinators, accessible offline and online.

 

The solution is realistic and feasible to be carried out by EPI teams because of its capability to address rapidly supportive supervision and training challenges and the continuity of safe immunization services during health emergency situation.

 

You might have experience with challenges in maintaining immunization session during the pandemic? What do you think about our solution? Have you ever come up with a similar one in the health sector or in other industries? Please share with us below in the comment section. We would love to hear different professional ideas around the world.

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Minh NGUYEN

Senior Public Health Specialist

Minh has thorough knowledge in Community Health and Service Delivery. In her role, she conducted studies performing several types of data analysis, formulating evidence-based recommendations to improve health and immunization service delivery strategies, and developing advocacy campaigns toward decision-makers.

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