Head of the steering committee of the national vaccination campaign against the coronavirus, Hechmi Louzir published this Sunday, October 10, 2021, a public Post on his page. He provides the following clarifications:
I am reacting to certain dissatisfaction, in particular healthcare staff, with regard to anti-COVID-19 vaccinations. I will try to provide some clarification.
First, the goal of vaccination is to protect a population against a disease that can kill. Faced with the global shortage of vaccines, we used different types of vaccines (based on recombinant adenovirus: Sputnick, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson; messenger RNA: Pfizer and Moderna; or inactivated virus: Sinopharm and Sinovac). All vaccines have been authorized in Tunisia and in certain regions of the world, on the basis of valid dossiers and international scientific publications. All the vaccines used in Tunisia protect almost equally against severe forms of COVID-19 and against mortality. It is true that in the files filed and in subsequent publications there is sometimes a difference in the effectiveness of protection against simple forms of the disease.
We started our vaccination campaign timidly, then, with the arrival of vaccines, we are currently one of the best countries in terms of vaccination and protection. We must continue to cover especially the population aged over 40, because this is where we can find the forms of COVID-19 which are complicated.
Now there are two other important issues we are addressing: booster dose and mobility (travel). These are two completely independent questions.
The booster dose is justified, 5-9 months after the second dose in certain groups: it will be intended for the elderly and those with co-morbidities which have in common a decline in immunity. As well as staff in close contact with COVID-19 patients or caring for vulnerable people (typically healthcare staff). The aim in the latter group is to increase immunity to increase protection and, moreover, increase in immunity will reduce the risk of asymptomatic carriage of the virus, which reduces the risk of transmitting it to patients. Which vaccine to give? Based on the opinion of the Vaccination Committee and international scientific data, an algorithm, with a hierarchy, was developed that takes into account the initial vaccination program, any pathology and contraindications. Elderly populations as well as healthcare personnel will receive invitations for the third dose and other groups, especially those with co-morbidities with reduced immunity, will be invited to register or be registered by their doctors. to receive the additional dose, which can also be done on medical prescription.
It remains the group of travelers, I would say the most difficult to manage. First of all I would like to emphasize that from our point of view, all those who have had a complete vaccination schedule, proposed in Tunisia, their vaccination is recognized, they have a valid vaccination certificate, in Tunisia. Unfortunately, this is not the case for other countries. For example in the USA we do not recognize the AstraZeneca vaccine, the vaccine from the University of Oxford, which has protected almost all English people !!! Some countries do not recognize the Russian vaccine !! While prequalified by the World Health Organization, Chinese inactivated vaccines are either unrecognized by some countries, or partially recognized, that is, an additional dose of one is required. another vaccine for those who have had two doses of inactivated vaccine. And so on. For example, while everywhere in the world, we accept a single dose of vaccine after COVID-19, Canada requires two doses.
Personally, I do not see why, a sovereign country like Tunisia, which decides to vaccinate its population by the vaccine that it has chosen and authorized on the basis of scientific publications, and on the basis of a filing of a file that has been accepted by the competent authorities is told that a particular vaccine is not recognized ?? This is the first time this has happened.
Despite this, and to make it easier for our fellow citizens to travel, we have developed an application for the vaccination of travelers whatever the reason for their trip. We have mobilized our efforts and our resources to offer additional doses of vaccine that take into account the initial vaccination schedule and the requirements of the countries of destination. An algorithm was developed and we invited the candidates to be vaccinated. And now there are discontented people. This is mainly for people who have had two doses of Sputnick and for whom, faced with the non-recognition of this vaccine by certain countries, the Vaccination Committee offers two alternatives, depending on the travel time: either Pfizer (two doses) or else, especially for travelers in a hurry a dose of a vaccine which is administered in a single dose (Johnson & Johnson). There may have been a lack of communication. The shot was rectified this morning, and the candidates can choose the vaccine. Even if the invitation was made for another vaccine, the change is feasible, the validation on the application will be done as quickly as possible.
Finally, you should know that the most important thing is to vaccinate to protect populations. Note that in the world, some populations have not yet had access to the first dose !!!!!