The COVID19 pandemic has also had a severe impact on children’s immunization nationwide. In this difficult context for the entire health system, the World Health Organization recommends avoiding dysfunctions in the national vaccination program, but the analysis of surveillance data in Romania shows a decrease in vaccine coverage.
The decrease in vaccination rates is due to several factors, some of which are independent of the pandemic context: growing anti-vaccination campaigns, unequal coverage of primary health care, especially in rural areas, reduced capacity of county public health authorities to manage rates low vaccination rates due to lack of staff, limited knowledge of the population about vaccination and lack of consistent national information campaigns on the benefits of vaccines, difficulties in the centralized procurement of vaccines, low access to health services for some populations, etc.
During 2022, the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation with the support of the UNICEF Representation in Romania and with the support of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) aims to strengthen the capacity of 11 of the Romanian County Public Health Directorates in order to increase vaccine coverage in the county.
Based on the low rate of MMR vaccination registered at the age of 18 months, but also on the interest shown by epidemiologists from the Public Health Directorates, the following counties were included in the project: Bihor, Brașov, Caraș-Severin, Constanța, Gorj, Hunedoara , Mureș, Sălaj, Suceava, Vaslui and Vrancea.
The aim and objectives of the project are to:
1. Strengthen the capacity of the 11 County Public Health Directorates (DSPJ) included in the project to identify the population of unvaccinated, unregistered or lost children and to plan their recovery to increase vaccine coverage.
2. Elaboration of an advocacy plan that will further promote the adoption, budgeting and implementation of the Multiannual National Immunization Plan.
The first objective will be achieved with the support of the medical staff of the DSPJ, appointed to participate in the project and together with doctors experts in epidemiology and public health from the INSP.
The collaborating experts will contribute through their experience and expertise to the processing and analysis of epidemiological data at the level of the counties included in the project and will elaborate documents necessary for the implementation of the activities by the RAA team.
The conclusions and recommendations developed by the experts in the 11 reports mapping the existing mechanisms for monitoring vaccination at county level, in the analysis of local and national public policies on immunization and in the 11 sketches of budgeted local immunization plans will all be the basis for the development of a training curriculum for the medical staff from the DSPJs included in the project. The training sessions will include a theoretical part, working tools and an applied part focused on solutions to the problems identified at the level of the selected counties.
A visit by the project team with DSPJ designated staff is also scheduled for an exchange of experience and good practices in similar public institutions in a successful European vaccine coverage country.
The second objective is to develop an advocacy plan based on the results obtained previously in the project and which will support the approval and budgeting of the Multiannual National Immunization Plan, so necessary in order to increase the vaccine recovery of children in our country.