Written by Pavani Hapuarachchi
22 Feb, 2021 | 4:13 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) is gravely concerned regarding the failure to implement the scientifically recommended vaccine priority list with regard to the national COVID-19 inoculation drive in the country, a media statement noted on Monday (Feb. 22).
The National Advisory committee on Communicable Diseases (NACCD), has approved the National Vaccine Deployment Plan for COVID-19 vaccination in January 2021, which was also approved by the Ministry of Health and conveyed to all stakeholders including the World Health Organization (WHO), the CCPSL noted in a press release.
The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), which also functions as the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), is the statutory body recognized locally and internationally to advice on the immunization policy of the country, for all Vaccine Preventable Diseases including COVID-19.
“Considering the fact that there will be very limited amount of vaccines in 2021, the approved vaccine deployment plan has listed the priority groups for vaccination,” the press release noted.
According to the statement, these priority groups include front-line health staff, those front line staff in the security forces and the Police, elderly over 60 years of age, those with co-morbidity and high risk groups in economically important and essential service/institutions.
“Prioritization is extremely important as there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe and no clear timeline is available for the delivery of the required doses of the vaccine to countries. Thus, it is mandatory to use the available vaccines in the best way to optimize the outcomes to our country,” the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) emphasized.
The CCPSL further noted, that the first priority as identified in National Vaccine Deployment Plan was to vaccinate the front-line healthcare workers and those who are directly involved in COVID-19 activities, which was completed in the first round of vaccination; whilst the remaining priority groups includes those over 60 years of age and specifically those suffering from non-communicable diseases in which severe diseases and deaths are happening on a daily basis in the country.
Thereby, the decision of the Ministry of Health to initiate vaccination targeting the individuals of 30 to 60 years was implemented in a few selected communities is a clear deviation from the scientifically agreed prioritization stated in the National Vaccine Deployment Plan, the CCPSL pointed out.
The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka noted that this strategy is neither an evidence based practice, nor a public health decision considering the wider public health and economic outcomes, adding it derails the COVID-19 preventive activities in the country, dangerously undermining the public health response to COVID-19 especially with regard to the objective of reduction of complications and deaths due to COVID-19.
“Disregarding the recommendations of NACCD at this stage of pandemic response may jeopardies the entire COVID-19 control activities. We, the CCPSL, earnestly requests the government to urgently implement the scientifically recommended vaccine priority list rather than taking ad-hoc decisions on vaccination policy,” emphasized the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL).
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