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Vaccine shortages, management issues hit 26 EU Member States including Cyprus — Report

Cyprus faces shortages, logistics, and management issues in vaccine rollout.

In the EU, 26 out of 27 Member States are struggling with vaccine shortages and irregular delivery, a report from the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned on Wednesday.

Cyprus, like many other EU countries, is facing challenges with regard to strategies to limit discarding unused vaccines (e.g. minimising wastage of doses), managing different types of vaccines with regards to
logistics, storage and/or administration, strategies to ensure optimal stock management and avoid
expiration of stocks (e.g. closed vial wastage), availability of shipping and transhipment, availability of storage capacities, and availability of the cold chain, the report said.

The majority of responding countries reported challenges related to the limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as frequent changes in timing of deliveries from vaccine producers, which can be unpredictable and can significantly affect the planning and efficiency of the rollout, the report said.

“The logistics to rollout vaccines with different characteristics around storage, transport and administration (e.g. timing of the second dose, indicated age groups, contraindications) are complex and half of the countries  reported challenges with effective strategies to limit discarding of unused vaccines (e.g. open vial wastage). Some countries avoid the wastage of vaccines by administering remaining doses to healthcare workers at the end of each vaccination session, or set up reserve lists of people willing to be vaccinated.”

Ten countries (36 per cent) reported challenges around a shortage of equipment needed for vaccination, specifically with a lack of dead-space syringes and needles to extract more doses from vaccine vials. Stockpiling, when necessary equipment is available, and central distribution may help to overcome these challenges.

Staffing shortages to administer vaccines was a challenge reported by six countries. Hiring and training more medical and even non-medical staff seem essential to progress in the mass vaccination campaign.

Challenges around reaching certain populations, especially those individuals who have difficulties leaving their homes, are noted in the report. Some countries try to address this challenge by running vaccination centres with multidisciplinary teams and by vaccinating immobile patients at home by their general practitioners.

“Communication challenges related to misinformation and disinformation around Covid-19 vaccines, which may affect vaccine acceptance. Countries also reported challenges with communicating about prioritising certain groups and the rationale behind this; and communicating about the efficacy and safety of different vaccine products and decisions taken regarding the protocols for their administration at national level. The extent and issues of vaccine acceptance and hesitancy vary across countries with specific local social and cultural patterns.”

All reporting countries have either an immunisation information system or an electronic immunisation registry in place, or are currently implementing an ad-hoc system to record individual vaccination status. However, challenges regarding IT issues, data quality and data completeness have been mentioned. It was suggested that functioning systems for reporting suspected adverse events following immunisation are needed, and a proposal to have a plan in place to communicate about any adverse events that may occur.

In order to meet the vaccination targets set by the European Commission of at least 70 per cent of the adult population is to be vaccinated by summer 2021, an effective and efficient deployment of
vaccination campaigns is essential, especially considering the complexities of the large scale required for mass vaccination. Monitoring of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the EU/EEA shows that the level of vaccine uptake is increasing, yet still at a pace that makes meeting the EU targets challenging in most countries, the report concluded.

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