The COVID-19 vaccination started in Romania a few days ago and the first beneficiaries are the voluntary medical personnel. The task of organising the vaccination was entrusted to the Government of Romania which by Decision no. 1031 of 27th November 2020 (published in the Official Gazette no. 1171 of 03rd December 2020, Part I) issued the Vaccination Strategy Against Covid-19 In Romania.
‘A number of issues related to vaccination need to be highlighted. First of all, it should be noted that the vaccination is free and optional. The persons who want to participate in the immunisation process will have to fill out an online form, make an appointment by telephone or contact their general practitioner,’ says Delia Ioniță, lawyer at Iordăchescu & Associates.
The way of grouping and prioritising the population when administering the vaccine
Given the relatively low availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the high demand, it was decided in the vaccination strategy that the vaccination of the population should be done in stages, on fairly established population groups. Several criteria were taken into account in determining the priority by population groups: ethical principles and social equity, epidemiological criteria (taken into account for the priority distribution of the vaccine in regions where the number of cases is higher, in order to limit the spread of the virus), medical criteria (risk of infection and severe complications and death, transmissibility), and protection of essential activities that ensure the organisation and functioning of society during this period of crisis.
The division into groups is therefore as follows: the first group consists of health and social workers (both public and private). This group includes hospital and outpatient units personnel, emergency medicine personnel, primary medicine personnel, as well as laboratory, pharmacy and dental service personnel, trainee doctors, medical students, paramedics and other volunteers, health care personnel, the personnel working in the National Institute of Public Health and public health directorates, health units of ministries and dialysis and transfusion centres, as well as persons providing medical and social care at home.
The second group consists of the population at high risk of contacting the virus (adults over 65 years of age and people with chronic diseases, regardless of age), as well as the persons working in key areas (state institution personnel – Parliament, Presidency, Government, ministries and institutions subordinated to them). This category also includes persons working in the field of defence, public order, national security and the judiciary, but also personnel in the vital economic sector (processing, distribution and selling of basic food; water plants, treatment, transport, water distribution; power plants, production, transport and distribution of electricity, gas, liquid and solid fuels, medicines and sanitary materials; transport of persons and goods; railway junctions, civil and military airports, essential ports; communications). This category also includes school and nursery personnel, postal and courier personnel, cult personnel, media and sanitation and waste personnel.
Finally, the third group consists of the child and adult population, depending on the epidemiological evolution and the characteristics of the approved vaccines. At the end of this vaccination process, it is desired to obtain community immunity, estimated at approximately 70% of the total population.
The establishment of vaccination groups has been carefully analysed so as to be in line with the documents issued by the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC), following consultations with 19 European countries and an analysis of the situation in Romania. In addition, in view of the current issues as regards the low availability of and high demand for vaccine doses, it is essential to divide the population in this way, in order to give priority to protecting the personnel essential to the fight against the virus and the persons at risk.
Although the issue of discriminating against certain segments of the population may be raised by establishing an order in which the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered, such a statement would not be considered valid. Thus, the European Convention on Human Rights stipulates that the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by it must be ensured without any distinction. By way of derogation, however, in the event of a war or other public danger threatening the life of the nation, measures may be taken which derogate from the obligations laid down in the Convention, in so far as the situation so requires. Therefore, given that it is impossible for all those wishing so to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, it has been established that equitable population staging is the most effective method of immunising the population.
Carrying Out The Vaccination Programme And Scheduling The Interested Persons
Vaccination will take place in vaccination centres and the strategy is to open about 900 centres nationwide. Mobile teams will also be set up for people who will not be able to travel to the centres. At the same time, the vaccines will be available to the population through the general practitioner and drive-through vaccination centres.
‘As mentioned above, scheduling people for vaccination will be possible by filling out an online form, by phone or with the help of the general practitioner. Regarding the first method, it should be specified that a computer platform has been created that allows people to schedule their vaccination. Registrations started on Monday, 28th December 2020, but for now only the people included in the first vaccination group have access to it, and access will be granted to people from the other groups at a later date. The platform may be found by accessing the link http://programare.vaccinare-covid.gov.ro/. With the help of the account created, registered persons will be able to access information such as the vaccination centre to which they must go, the date of administration of the first dose, and also the date of administration of the second dose, which will have to take place at a about one month after the first administration,’ further mentions Delia Ioniță, lawyer at Iordăchescu & Associates.
Information On Possible Side Effects
A report sheet specific to the COVID-19 vaccination and a guide with questions and answers for patients are currently being drafted. Consequently, interested parties will have access to information on how to report possible side effects after vaccination. The information may be found both on the ANMDMR website, in the adverse reactions reporting section, and also in the information campaigns. Adverse reactions may be reported electronically using the code on the vaccination certificate. Moreover, any physician who detects a case of side effects is required to report it.