Mauritius, despite being COVID-safe, kick started its COVID-19 vaccination training for health workers as part of its national COVID-19 response. A five half-day training programme was launched by the Dr Hon Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal, Minister of Health and Wellness on 11 January 2021 at the Ministry's Health Club room, Port Louis, in the presence of high level officials of the Ministry, including Health Directors, Regional Public Health Superintendents and Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius.
The COVID-19 vaccination training programme aims at providing adequate knowledge and skills to 300 health workers, who will be involved in the implementation of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign, to ensure safe and efficient COVID-19 vaccine administration.
"This COVID-19 vaccination training is a decisive turning point in our management of COVID-19 situation", said Dr Hon K.K. Jagutpal who added that "in Mauritius, we are in a different situation as compared to other countries who are in havoc and have to rush to vaccination of their population as it is the only viable option to put an halt to the new cases and casualties."
Dr Hon K. K. Jagutpal emphasized "Mauritius is COVID-safe since 26th November 2020. We need to implement the national COVID-19 vaccination programme to be prepared. It is important to start with the training of the health workers who will play an important role to bring the COVID-19 vaccination in each household in a near future."
The Minister of Health and Wellness recognized once more "the role of the front liners in Mauritius who relentlessly fought the invisible enemy during our episode of viral circulation. It is thanks to our efforts, courage and dedication that we are COVID-safe." He emphasized on the role of health workers in giving the right information to the public on the COVID-19 vaccination.
"Mauritius circulated the first draft of its National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 last week. The Plan takes into account all international obligations that countries have to comply with, and it addresses the various challenges that may arise in the vaccination process", said Dr Hon K. K. Jagutpal.
"We should thank the World Health Organization and its local branch in Mauritius who have always assisted our country in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan has been prepared with the close collaboration of the WHO Representative in Mauritius, Dr L. Musango and other counterparts. To mark this collaboration, Dr Hon K. K. Jagutal, Minister of Health and Wellness handed over a shield to Dr. L. Musango for the support received from WHO to contain COVID-19.
A logistics expert from WHO has reached Mauritius last week and is currently in quarantine. The latter will support the country in preparing for the implementation of the National Vaccination Plan.
Dr Laurent Musango, the WHO Representative in Mauritius, during his address, said that due to the current situation of COVID-19 in the World, and its negative impact in health, social and economic situation, it has become more than urgent to find a solution. He added, "vaccination is important as an emergence of new variants - not very well known - are being observed in countries such as UK and South Africa."
Dr L. Musango highlighted that WHO suggested countries to respond to this emergency through the 'do it all approach, that is to continue implementing the existing measures that show good results for prevention and control. These include the use of mask, physical distancing and hand hygiene and in addition to the three measures, vaccine is another important measure."
The WHO Representative in Mauritius mentioned that COVAX - set up by GAVI, CEPI and WHO - has now secured contract of 20% doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for Mauritius, which we are ready to roll out as soon as the vaccines are delivered. He highlighted the importance of quality assurance as regards to the supply of vaccines to ensure positive impact on the population that receive them and to preserve the trust that has been placed in the Facility. "To achieve this, WHO has advised that the COVAX Facility should only consider products on the WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) or Prequalification (PQ)", said Dr L. Musango.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the first to receive emergency validation from WHO. The Emergency Use Listing opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.
"The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) have issued policy recommendations on how best to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Recommendations on the settings where the vaccines are to be administered, the resources and trained health care personnel that need to be available to immediately manage any side effects, including anaphylaxis, which is estimated to occur in approximately 1 case per 100,000 doses administered are among the recommendations," pointed out Dr L. Musango
Dr L. Musango expressed his appreciation in all the efforts of the Government of Mauritius in implementing the advices from WHO and stressed the importance of integrating the COVID-19 vaccination programme with other health interventions across the life course as well as proper counselling of potential candidates to be vaccinated, effective communication and supportive supervision.