ESAVI workshop hosted to strengthen regional vaccination program

31 Aug 2022
Participants at ESAVI workshop

Bridgetown, Barbados, 31 August 2022 (PAHO) - A PAHO/WHO workshop on Events Supposedly Attributable to Vaccination or Immunization (ESAVI) for Dominica and Barbados, has met with success according to participants in the five-day workshop.

The ESAVI workshop was organized for public health nurses, staff of the Ministry of Health of Barbados and Dominica, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados Drug Service, epidemiologists, Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) managers and personnel, and the pharmacovigilance committee. Its main objective was to strengthen ESAVI national surveillance capacities, using regional and global standards as a reference and using tools from epidemiology, data management and analysis, communication, and case studies, to be developed during the program.

It was expected that by the end of the workshop, participants would have strengthened standardized knowledge of detection, notification, investigation, data analysis, causality assessment for ESAVI surveillance for decision-making in ESAVI surveillance for COVID-19 vaccines, from the perspective of epidemiology and public health. Also, participants are expected to be equipped to use a logical-scientific model for collective health problems, through the development of case studies and the application of content.

Here is what some of the participants had to say about the workshop.

Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, Co-coordinator of the COVID-19 Vaccine Program in Barbados, described the workshop as “timely”, and stated she has learned how to “investigate ESAVIs, which ones need investigating, which do not and how to decide whether they were attributed to the vaccine or could have been caused by some other event.”

Dominica’s Acting Senior Community Health Nurse and Acting EPI Manager, Yvonette Anatol-Carbon, said the workshop “broadened her knowledge of ESAVI”. She acknowledged that some of the information was already known to her and the workshop provided “in depth training in what to do moreso as an EPI Manager”.

Isana Moise-Alfred is an Acting Community Health Nurse and District Nurse Mid-Wife in Dominica. Her observations were that as “vaccine administrators and nurses, we should be more vigilant in identifying and notifying, following the step-by-step process to ensure all ESAVIs are reported and surveillance is done, so we can identify any issues related to vaccination.”

Participants attending the workshop are now in a position to provide ESAVI surveillance training for all district staff, and plan and implement a training program – with technical assistance from the PAHO WDC team - for the ESAVI investigating committee which includes the CMO, Epidemiologist, Pharmacist and Paediatrician.

In her remarks during the opening ceremony of the workshop, Dr. Karen Broome, PAHO/WHO Advisor for Immunization, reminded the audience that the Caribbean has a legacy of vaccination expertise.

The Caribbean has a long and respected history of leading the world in the elimination of childhood diseases that are preventable by vaccination. The Sub-region was the first to eliminate poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, congenital rubella syndrome, diphtheria, and neonatal tetanus through vaccination and to sustain the elimination of these communicable diseases for decades.

“The success of our EPI programs was due to the commitment of the EPI Managers and the National Immunization Programme staff, unwavering political and technical support, and a recognition by the public that vaccines prevent disease and death. The provision of technical support and guidance in addition to strategic funding by PAHO to strengthen NIPs has also enabled countries in the Caribbean to maintain high childhood immunization coverage and in the process, achieve historic immunization goals in the region.”

Dr. Amalia Del Riego Abreu, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, described the workshop as critical to the continued work with the vaccination program in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the UK Overseas Territories and the French Territories.

“The ESAVI workshop was therefore part of PAHO’s continuing mission to strengthen the vaccination program in the Caribbean region. It is the first in a series of ESAVI workshops in our region.”

Participants feedback on the ESAVI workshop: