Georgian Leaders Gather to Discuss Immunization Regulations
TBILISI, GEORGIA - Today, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, together with the Parliament of Georgia, assembled senior officials and stakeholders to evaluate and prioritize policies to improve routine immunization coverage in Georgia.
Members of parliament, local legislators and representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science will join healthcare providers, immunization managers, technical experts and representatives from the local offices of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, CDC, USAID, World Bank and others. The gathered experts will discuss potential solutions and pilot programs to strengthen immunization in Georgia, such as educational efforts, financing schemes and legislation mandating vaccination.
Sabin began working in Georgia in 2014, as the country began to transition off of support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Prior to that, Georgia and many other low- and middle- income countries in Eastern Europe received significant support from Gavi to purchase vaccines for their citizens, expanding national immunization programs and significantly reducing vaccine-preventable diseases. But regional disparities in vaccination rates persist, and Georgia has not yet reached the target of 95 percent coverage for the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.
In a series of in-depth interviews and focus groups conducted by Sabin, respondents identified a number of issues for discussion including awareness of immunization, trust among the public and health professionals, insurance coverage, personnel to provide and monitor vaccination, and coordination of the immunization program among key stakeholders. Today participants will discuss the findings and consider potential policy solutions for the government to implement. Together, immunization stakeholders will set priorities and determine appropriate action.
By openly discussing and evaluating the options, and considering the experience of other European countries, participants will build consensus around the solutions most appropriate for Georgia and prioritize the interventions most likely to successfully raise immunization rates.
“Immunization is one of the most effective and affordable investments that a country can make in the health and well-being of its citizens,” said Amy Finan, chief executive officer of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Georgian officials recognize the value of immunization and are leaders in the region. Sabin is proud to support Georgia’s efforts to continue to improve its immunization programs and determine the appropriate next steps to ensure all Georgia’s children are safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
As countries like Georgia transition away from Gavi support, they must provide leadership to finance and deliver universal routine immunization services. Legislation is an effective mechanism to maintain reliable access to immunization services, demonstrate political will and keep vaccination coverage rates high. Georgian law mandates that the government organize and supervise the supply, storage and transportation, of all routine vaccines and further requires that healthcare providers provide timely information about vaccination and document any instances of parents refusing preventative vaccination. Internal military forces and naval services are required to be vaccinated, and soon a policy mandating vaccination for medical personnel will be introduced.
By bringing together diverse national stakeholders, Sabin seeks to enable policy makers to discuss and evaluate policies and practices to strengthen their national immunization systems.
Last year, Sabin hosted a regional workshop with attendees from Armenia, Georgia and Moldova to outline key provisions for immunization legislation and develop plans to strengthen legislative protections for immunization. At that time, participants from Georgia determined that improving regulations and increasing demand for vaccines would be top priorities.
Since 2008, Sabin has worked with 23 countries to take long-term financial ownership of their immunization programs and craft policies to support successful immunization programs. With Sabin’s technical support and guidance, these countries have developed and implemented institutional solutions such as legislation, domestic advocacy coalitions and financial management practices. A guiding principle of the global effort to deliver universal access to immunization is that it is the responsibility of countries to provide effective and quality immunization for all. Sabin provides support to decision makers and strengthens national capacity to make evidenced-based decisions for better immunization programs.
About The Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.