Vientiane, Lao PDR, November 23, 2022: This month, an innovative national immunization training program for healthcare workers concluded in Houaphanh province, concluding a national training program in all provinces of Lao PDR. The training focused on the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine and explored strategies and tools to address COVID-19 and other immunization gaps.
“Protecting the most vulnerable and closing the vaccination gaps against COVID-19 – especially among high-risk groups like the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions – is the one of our top priorities,” said Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director of the Health and Hygiene Promotion Department. “This training enables health workers at central, provincial, district and community levels to better achieve this goal and support the resumption of routine immunization disrupted by the pandemic.
Organized jointly by the Department of Health, WHO and UNICEF, with support from the Australian Government through the Regional Vaccine Access Program and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the training included staff at national, provincial and district levels, in all provinces and 148 districts. , to train approximately 2,500 hospital and health center staff.
Currently, 74% of the population has completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, which is close to the 80% target for 2022. However, only one in four older people, who are most at risk of contract COVID-19, have received their COVID-19 reminder. Unfortunately, routine life-saving childhood vaccinations, such as measles, have also fallen behind during the COVID-19 pandemic – according to Ministry of Health data, just over 62% of all children under the age of one year are fully vaccinated1.
WHO Representative Dr Ying-Ru Lo said: “As in many countries, progress has been made in protecting people against COVID-19, however, significant gaps remain in vaccination coverage and routine vaccinations have lagged for various reasons – this needs to be addressed.
“The hard work is not over yet and we need to protect the most vulnerable in our community. If you or your family members are not vaccinated, have not received a booster or have missed routine vaccination, the message is clear: get vaccinated. »
UNICEF Representative Dr Pia Rebello Britto said, “We are working closely with the Ministry of Health to organize a catch-up campaign in the coming months, especially in districts where there is a high number of unvaccinated children, so that no child is left behind. and every child is protected against preventable childhood diseases”.
More than 2,500 health workers participated in the training, including vaccination teams from the Ministry of Health, Vientiane District, health centers, military health units, and provincial and district hospitals. Staff from the Ministry of Education and Sports, UN agencies and development partners also participated.
The training is part of efforts to combine vaccination against COVID-19 with routine immunization efforts, and continued support from government and development partners to ensure recovery from the pandemic, with its broad impacts on families. , communities, schools, workplaces and the economy.