Vaccination: understanding the challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Khushi Lohiya, 2nd year medical student of NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and research centre. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Vaccination for any disease is a lengthy and highly meticulous process. It’s a challenge within itself. Development of any new vaccine is a time-consuming process as it has to go through numerous phases of testing and building. Currently, the entire world is battling the novel Coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China for the first time.

Now, after a constant battle of almost a year, many countries have been triumphant in developing their respective vaccines. Today, the world finds itself in a race against time to deliver vaccination against Covid-19. The problems in carrying out vaccination at this massive scale are apparent, but not incoherent. Numerous challenges come forth considering the vaccination campaigns. A few of which are the efficacy rates of the vaccine, its access to this gargantuan population, the adverse effects following immunisation (AEFI), culpability and anaphylaxis. Because the virus is highly contagious, it’s even more cardinal to adapt a highly efficient campaign for vaccination, with minimum loopholes.

The hiccups, in a vaccination program as such, vary from country to country. 

Having said that, the countries that solely depend on the primary health sector for the administration of the vaccines may hassle for making the vaccines available for their people. Across the world, it is acceptable for

pharmacists to administer vaccines; such is not the case for India, where only doctors and trained nurses are permitted. Hence, countries like India might want to recruit and train more personnel for the job to ensure a speedy process.

For a country as populated as India, the aim must be to ensure a fair, yet strategic distribution of vaccines for its population.  And to overcome this hurdle it is crucial to ensure the prior apportion of the vaccine to the logistical demography of people including the frontline health workers of the public and private sector, population above 50 years of age and people with comorbidities. 

The challenges are not only limited to the widespread availability and administration but also the aftermath of it. Most likely, the same vaccine will have different efficacy rates in heterogeneous populations. Hence, based on the relevant data, the vaccination strategy will also have to change/evolve. Monitoring a huge population for any side effects of the vaccine can pose another challenge in the process.

Another fundamental challenge associated with the vaccination campaigns is the yet ambiguous nature of SARS-CoV-2. The possible mutation of the virus can put forth various other challenges. Studies have shown that viruses are constantly evolving as a result of genetic selection. Thus the global community must put itself together for the possibility that a highly mutated variant of the virus can make vaccines, even temporarily, ineffective. Another domain of concern could be preventing the misinformation, regarding the vaccine and vaccination, from spreading which could cause the fear of vaccine in the people.

The fight against this global pandemic remains and it is pretty much evident that the world has a long road to prepare for Covid-19 vaccination.

About the author

The author of this article is Khushi Lohiya, 2nd year medical student of NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and research centre.

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