With the arrival of different coronavirus vaccines and the approval and initiation of vaccination programs in various countries, doubts have arisen regarding the criteria that will be used to distribute immunizations, as well as concerns about whether vaccination will be mandatory.
On Monday, December 7, during its biweekly conference, the World Health Organization addressed these questions, inviting the population to exercise individual responsibility for immunization and urging the non-mandatory nature of the vaccine.
To date, there have been more than 68 million cases of coronavirus in the world, as well as more than 1.5 million deaths related to Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University
What is the coronavirus?
The WHO indicates that coronaviruses “are an extensive family of viruses that can cause disease in both animals and humans.”
In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to serious illnesses such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and now the coronavirus disease known as Covid-19. .
Covid-19, which was discovered in the wake of the first outbreak in Wuhan , China in December 2019, has proven to be a highly infectious disease that can present serious health complications and can even cause death.
This disease is easily spread from person to person through droplets that come out of the nose and mouth of infected people by coughing, sneezing or just talking. A person can get Covid-19 by inhaling the droplets expelled by a person infected with the virus.
Some of the symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, dry cough, tiredness, muscle pain, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, skin rashes, or color changes in the fingers. of the hands or feet, as the WHO points out.
Is it mandatory to get the Covid-19 vaccine?
In a statement, the WHO said that it will be the decision of each country or company to make immunization against the coronavirus a requirement.
Also, there may be a “strong recommendation” to get vaccinated directed at healthcare workers , especially those on the front line.
However, the United Nations health agency pointed out that “it is vital to make sure that people have all the correct information about its effectiveness and safety ” so that they can make the personal decision regarding the vaccine.
WHO Emergency Director Michael Ryan told a press conference that “there are specific circumstances in which governments will have to enforce these vaccine requirements , but all of us who work in public health would like to prevent this from becoming a general means of getting people immunized ”.
According to Ryan, the best strategy for immunizing people is to present the facts and benefits of vaccines for them to decide for themselves. However, he noted that there will be circumstances where “the only correct decision is to get vaccinated.”
In this regard, Dr. Katherine O’Brien specified that these cases include health workers: “We can imagine certain professions in hospitals such as respiratory technicians and doctors and nurses in intensive care units where there will be a very clear recommendation of get vaccinated to protect workers and patients . “
In addition, Dr. Mariangela Simao, Deputy Director for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Drugs, added that WHO considers that, in the case of adult immunizations, it is better to work with information campaigns and make the vaccine accessible to priority groups , since there are not enough vaccines to immunize the entire population.
Immunization is an individual responsibility
Michael Ryan added that it is necessary for everyone to question their individual responsibility in the face of the requirements of the law.
“What we as individuals can do to protect ourselves and the people around us . If I live alone on a desert island, I probably don’t need the vaccine, I don’t know, but if I am going to visit my grandmother in a nursing home, would it be my responsibility to go where there are many elderly people without being vaccinated? ” Ryan said, adding that people need to ask these kinds of questions in order to make the right decision about whether to get vaccinated or not.
Give priority to vulnerable groups
For his part, the director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, urged countries to remember the most vulnerable during the distribution of vaccines and, although he recognized that it is not an easy decision, said that the vaccination of workers in the health that are at risk of infection will help protect both them and the health system.
Regarding older adults, the WHO director noted that “People at increased risk of serious illness or death as a result of age are also a high priority group because protecting them will reduce serious illness and death and ease the burden of health systems ”.
As the supply of vaccines increases, the focus should be on the groups most at risk of severe disease due to underlying diseases, as well as the marginalized groups most at risk, said Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus.
Finally, the director of WHO stressed that while only a small part of the population is immunized, it is vital that governments, communities and individuals continue to use the proven tools of public health .