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BENGALURU: While manufacturers wait for vaccines against Covid-19 to be approved, the Union government will set up a nationwide surveillance network to detect and respond to Potential Post-Immunization Adverse Events (AEFI). This is important for emergency approvals. According to guidelines released Tuesday by the Union Department of Health and Family Welfare, post-vaccination health monitoring centers must be established in all states and territories of the Union.
“The existing AEFI surveillance system will be used to monitor adverse events and improve understanding of the safety profile of the vaccines,” the guidelines say. In the meantime, Dr. Sudhakar K, Minister of Health and Medical Education, the center has started to put in place a sophisticated Post-Immunization Adverse Event Monitoring (AEFI) mechanism.
“The Covid vaccination program will also be unique because it is only aimed at adults. State governments have been asked to identify AEFIs quickly and respond promptly to ensure that public confidence in the new vaccine does not deteriorate. Potential vaccines are trained with detailed instructions on infection prevention and control, and how to manage small, severe or severe AEFIs, ”said Sudhakar.
States were asked to identify at least one AEFI administrative center in each block, which could be a primary health center or a community health center, a district hospital, or even a private health facility with doctors and paramedical staff. Each vaccination site is linked to a designated AEFI management center. All such adverse events are reported through the Co-Win application, which is designed to monitor and manage the Covid-19 vaccination program.
Dr. Sudhakar added that the key guidelines state that beneficiaries must be informed of any adverse events that may occur after vaccination. These are expected to be minor such as local pain and swelling, as well as mild to moderate fever, etc. However, the list of expected events may vary due to the safety profile of the Covid-19 vaccines that eventually emerge) approved for use. All severe or severe AEFIs are investigated by the district vaccination officer or the district AEFI committee.
Meanwhile, experts from Karnataka have welcomed the guidelines. “Mass vaccination campaigns for Covid-19 would require a higher level of AEFI monitoring than currently available levels (which have been developed) to monitor AEFIs in infants and children immunized with vaccines that have been shown to be effective and have been used for years will. We shouldn’t be in a hurry with anything to do with Covid-19 vaccines. We should also wait for the efficacy of the trial data before putting pressure on the manufacturing companies to give us the vaccine early, ”said Dr. CN Manjunath, director of the Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology and knot testing officer for Covid 19.
He added that not only acute side effects but also transient side effects should be observed and listed. Another senior health expert said the state needs to be prepared for AEFI. “Even if we run a universal vaccination program that has been in place for decades, there are some adverse effects on children and pregnant women. We are already seeing adverse events in other countries (with Covid-19), so our states need to be prepared for them and monitor them well, ”he said.
The key guidelines state that preparation is required at all levels before and during the immunization program: “First, readiness must be assessed before the introduction of the vaccine. The teams need to make field visits, the data should be verified. Daily evening events have to take place later, standardized monitoring tools, a mobile app and real-time data from the planning unit have to be sent to the national level. “