A strong collaborative effort to ensure vaccine safety

Podgorica, 24 November 2016 Can a vaccine cause a particular adverse reaction? Is there a causal relationship between a particular medical occurrence following immunization and the usage of a vaccine? How can we increase public confidence in the vaccine? These questions are just some of the issues raised at the sub-regional training workshop on surveillance and causality assessment of adverse events following immunization, which is hosted from 21 to 25 November by the World Health Organization Country Office in Montenegro. The workshop, which is attended by 80 representatives from 15 countries, seeks to strengthen regional and in-country capacity on vaccine safety by sharing best practices and reviewing WHO recommendations, guidance and tools for setting up surveillance systems and causality assessment mechanisms to detect and respond effectively to adverse events following immunization (AEFI). Opening the workshop, Head of the WHO Country Office in Montenegro Mina Brajović emphasized that immunization is one of the most powerful health interventions, pointing out that a remarkable progress has been made in protecting the individual and the public from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Yet, a lot remains to be done in order to achieve the immunization-related SDGs set by the WHO. Those targets call, among other things, for all countries to be immunizing by 2020 at least 90% of their target populations, and at least 80% vaccination coverage in every district or equivalent administrative unit for all vaccines in a national immunization programme”

Mina Brajović, Head of the WHO Country Office in Montenegro

One of the hot topics in the workshop includes vaccine hesitancy, which refers to a decision to delay or refuse vaccines despite the availability of vaccination services. This complex problem was particularly highlighted by Boban Mugoša, Director of the National Institute of Public Health.
“It has become commonplace to say, and repeat saying, that vaccine hesitancy across the region is one of the most severe challenges to the health and well-being of our children and our youth. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to manage immunization safety events properly”,

Boban Mugoša, Director of the National Institute of Public Health

According to the WHO, immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health strategies, which prevents between two and three million deaths every year. WHO in cooperation with global and regional partners develops policies and tools to ensure safe use of vaccines. In Montenegro, the WHO has a key role in ensuring vaccine safety after a product has been licensed for use, while it also monitors vaccinated populations and occurring adverse events following immunization and addresses vaccine safety concerns when they arise.