ISLAMABAD: While Covid-19 vaccines are new and there are risks of adverse effects following vaccination, the Ministry of National Health Services has confirmed that a robust mechanism has been placed in place to track post-immunisation cases.
In addition, on Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) conducted a training session on the monitoring of potential post-immunization adverse events.
It should be noted that 500,000 Covid-19 Sinopharm vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated the vaccination campaign on Feb 2.
Frontline staff and primary healthcare practitioners are vaccinated in the initial process, in which older persons will be covered.
WHO, Drap arrange training session on post-immunisation monitoring
Representatives from Pakistan National Pharmacovigilance Center, (PNPC), Drap, Federal Extended Immunization Program (EPI, regional EPIs and provincial pharmacovigilance focal persons participated in the training session, ‘Monitoring of Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFIs) of Covid-19 vaccines.’
Participants were told that adult vaccination counters (AVCs) built at 582 health facilities across the country will be used to vaccinate Covid-19.
Both AVCs will have focal persons who will exchange daily reports on AEFI reporting forms with the District Health Officers’ Offices (DHO) where they will be collected on a weekly basis.
In the EPI Management Information System, the weekly updates will be entered into (EPI-MIS). As the EPI-MIS has not yet been rolled out there, Sindh and Punjab will share their data in hard format/excel sheets.
The operations linked to AEFI will be monitored by the committee at the national level.
PNPC Assistant Director Aqsa Hashmi briefed participants on the filing of data concerning the e-reporting system and the smartphone application for MedSafety. The MedSafety App was activated on the participants’ cell phones and a hands-on exercise was also given.
It has been agreed that the collaboration process among stakeholders needs to be improved.
It was determined that PNPC would provide the federal EPI with the required database logins for entry and sharing with Drap.
WHO representative Macheal Ukiwa advised participants that the vaccines were fresh and that media rumours and false reports about the efficacy of the vaccines were likely to occur.
The WHO is responsible for reducing the risk associated with choices for recovery. The aim of this training session is to ensure the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine in Pakistan. In addition, it is also an international obligation that stakeholders participating in AEFI supervision must be provided with the required refresher training,” he said.
Dr Asim Rauf, Chief Executive Officer of Drap, confirmed that three Covid-19 vaccines were given emergency authorisation by the Registration Board of the Authority. The protection of these vaccinations could never, however, be included, which is why the training session was held in order to reinforce the AEFI selection process and resources and to improve teamwork among stakeholders.
“It is time for the quality testing of these vaccines to be given due consideration. In addition to tracking the harms of the Covid-19 vaccine, it would also create public interest in these vaccinations that will assist in smooth vaccination, he added.
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He praised the efforts of the Pharmaceutical Services Division in authorising clinical trials and registration of vaccines for Covid-19.
Dr Abdur Rashid, Director of the Pharmacy Division and Head of PNPC, clarified the role played by Drap in general and the Pharmacy Services Division in the approval process for vaccine clinical trials in particular.