(CMC) — The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has launched a week-long social media campaign to promote the importance of reporting suspected side effects following coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.
CARPHA said that the project is being undertaken by its Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
It said the weeklong event, which is the sixth annual “#MedSafetyWeek” social media campaign will focus on vaccines.
“Medicines agencies from 64 countries will be encouraging healthcare professionals, national immunisation programme staff, as well as patients, their careers and families, to report problems experienced with vaccines, including COVID-19 shots.
“Vaccines are among the most important advances in medicine saving millions of lives annually and have proven to be the best method to protect individuals against infectious diseases. However, as with all medicines, side effects can happen,” CARPHA added.
PAHO Sub-regional Programme Director in the Caribbean, Dean Chambliss, said this campaign comes at a critical moment when millions of people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Vaccine safety begins with the timely detection and reporting of adverse events following immunisation. It is important to report suspected adverse events of vaccines and, by extension, all medicines.
“Each report counts but to have an impact, countries need to assess this information and share safety updates regularly with the international community,” he said.
In August last year, CARPHA launched its online reporting form for adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) which can be used for any vaccine, including the novel COVID-19 vaccines.
“The reporting of an adverse effect following vaccination does not mean the event has been caused by the vaccine, or that the person who gave the vaccine made an error, but it is an important part of helping the national authorities to identify events that may need to be investigated further,” said Dr Joy St John, CARPHA’s executive director.
“The information from investigations and data analyses will assist member states in identifying the types of reactions that persons are experiencing, and any additional monitoring or regulatory actions that may be needed.”
CARPHA said that reporting of side effects that last longer than three days, and those that cause persons to see a doctor, is an important part of checking and ensuring that approved vaccines remain safe when used in larger populations.
“Health workers are encouraged to use the relevant vaccine product information from trusted sources, to guide patients, parents and caregivers,” it added.