European Immunization Week in Republic of Moldova: addressing vaccine hesitancy

WHO

To mark European Immunization Week, the popular Moldovan parent online community “Ask a Mom” organized a web live-streamed event on 25 April 2018 in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. The objective of the event, which was viewed by over 14 000 visitors, was to address vaccine hesitancy by bringing together parents and health experts. Experts from WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the National Resource Centre on Youth-friendly Health Services Neovita were at hand to answer live queries and concerns and to raise awareness of the benefits and importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage.

Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services. It includes factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.

“The decision to vaccinate a child is a much-discussed topic in parents’ communities. We all live in an era when we have access to all kinds of information, and as parents, we want to take the best decisions for our children, including for their health. The scope of our event is to address vaccine hesitancy, to help parents better understand what vaccination is and what the benefits are for children and families,” said Alisia Valcov, Chair of Ask a Mom.

Medical students and young people promoting immunization

Medical students and young people also participated in European Immunization Week by promoting immunization through public debates and live events.

Such promotional activities included the annual event held by medical students from Nicolae Testemițanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy. Under this year’s theme “yes or no to vaccination” the students engaged with the public to highlight the benefits and importance of immunization.

Adolescents and young people from the capital city Chisinau also gathered for an open-air session on immunization at the invitation of the National Public Health Agency and the National Resource Centre on Youth-friendly Health Services Neovita.

Progress in preventing disease through immunization

The Republic of Moldova is among the 33 countries in the WHO European Region that have successfully eliminated indigenous measles and rubella. It also contributes to sustaining the Region’s polio- free status.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, during 2011–2017 no cases of tetanus, diphtheria or indigenous rubella were recorded in the country. Compared to the year 2000, the Republic of Moldova has also seen a decreasing number of cases of mumps (from 1943 to 78), and hepatitis B (from 751 to 23).

The National Immunization Programme (2016–2020) currently covers 12 vaccine-preventable diseases. The introduction of rotavirus vaccine into the routine immunization schedule in 2012 has led to a reduction of the number of children hospitalized with severe diarrhoea caused by this virus from 782 in 2012 to 396 cases in 2017. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was successfully introduced in December 2017.