PORTUGAL COVID-19 VACCINATION PLAN ANNOUNCEMENT
AIMS, PRIORITY GROUPS AND HOW IT WILL BE ADMINISTERED
The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, considered that “today is an important day” for the country, since, despite the “uncertainties” that still exist around the vaccine, Portugal takes “one more step” in planning how this will be administered.
Marta Temido stressed that the vaccine will have a “universal and free character”, being made available “in several points” of the NHS and using “as much as possible” that network.
Francisco Ramos, vaccination plan coordinator, details objectives and priority groups
– reduce mortality and hospitalizations, especially in ICUs
– control outbreaks especially in the most vulnerable populations
– minimize the impact on the economy
Vaccination plan will have three phases
Francisco Ramos, coordinator of the working group created to develop the vaccination plan, released the details:
In the first vaccination phase, which starts in January and should go on until March, as Francisco Ramos predicts, the vaccination points will be the usual ones in the country, that is, health centres. There are about 1200 of these points and will have the mission of vaccinating about 950 thousand people
The choice involves utilising experience, circuits and professionals already trained for the purpose, which, in this case, are nurses.
The exception is made for homes and for long-term care services, since in these two cases users will be vaccinated in their own places, sometimes by the nursing team itself, other times by a team that will go to the place for the purpose.
It will be up to the health centres to identify the Portuguese who, due to their characteristics, should get the vaccine in this first phase, find them and call them for their respective intake.
Thus, the process will be centralized. “What we propose is a logic of command and control, not decentralized. We will maintain collaboration by all entities, but due to the timings and relevance of the process, also due to uncertainty, there should be a central command in the Ministry of Health, with DGS. With the support of the armed forces and security forces. We are outlining all operations in as much detail as possible, to find out what will happen up to the vaccine administration site. Raising security issues, we are ensuring the safety of everything. ”
Communication is also being prepared. “We want communication to be very broad, to generate confidence in the population, to guarantee the application of the vaccine.”
Thus, there will be a portal on the internet where all the relevant information is. “And telephone lines to support the general population and health professionals.”
The vaccine procurement process is coordinated by the European Union, says Rui Ivo, president of Infarmed, the National Medicines Authority, which has participated, on behalf of the Ministry of Health
After a brief introduction by Marta Temido, Rui Ivo, president of Infarmed, spoke to explain how the vaccine acquisition and evaluation process has been carried out. The process is the result of a coordinated strategy within the scope of the European Union, on which two pillars of action were created: guaranteeing the necessary quantity of vaccines, through several procurement judgments, and the adaptation of the evaluation rules.
Rui Ivo also said that there are six judgments concluded by the European Commission, noting that the first was made with Astrazeneca, on August 14, in which 6.9 million doses will be for Portugal. Note also for the 4.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine destined for Portugal, the 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and the 1.8 million doses of the vaccine for Moderna.
Regarding the evaluation of vaccines, the president of Infarmed reveals that it was done in a different way than usual, the so-called scientific advice, in which there was interaction between the authorities – in this case, the European Medicines Agency – and the companies that are developing the vaccine. This was done with the aim of saving time, not waiting for the completion of the studies, but starting to receive interim data throughout the trials.
We really have a light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel is still very long and quite painful. The 22 million do not arrive on the first day, they arrive gradually throughout the year 2021. It is therefore very important that they are defined priority criteria. The ones that the commission puts forward are clear: first, homes, health care, essential services. Second, more vulnerable populations, due to age or mobility – it is a criterion that we all understand. ”
Then, Costa recalls that there are imponderables – and some that are not in the hands of the country. “” Trust requires that the Portuguese be aware that it is necessary to speak the truth. But we must know that there is a significant set of imponderables: production, licensing does not depend on us. If there is a delay there, we have to readjust the timetable. ”
The official also calls for the need to maintain “a fine balance between managing uncertainty and creating confidence in citizens during the coming months”, adding that it gives him “ enormous tranquility” to be working with the Armed Forces.
Vice-Admiral Gouveia e Melo spoke later to say that ” the Portuguese population must have confidence in this process”, that being “complex” and having “many variables and uncertainties”, will have the help of the Armed Forces.
PRIME INISTER SUMMING UP
Prime Minister closes with some confidence (always with warnings):
“The difficulties start here. And they will be growing. The operation will be easier in the first weeks when we have few doses and limited recipients. They will be much more demanding when there are more doses and the universe to be vaccinated wider.
It is an immense effort, but it is not less than what the Portuguese have been doing depriving themselves of freedoms, which families have been doing with bearing losses of income, which companies have been doing in order to survive. These crises will only be overcome when we have reached a sufficient level of immunization.
It is good to know that there is a light, but we still have a very long way to go. Even after we reach collective immunization, we will still have several pains to treat. But we are at a better point today than last week, much better than six months ago. So there is confidence ”.