Ilda Hoxha

Progress of door-to-door vaccination campaign against Covid-19 announced as an action by Minister of Health Ms Manastirliu has not been up to scratch after 8 months. Until October 2021, no more than 30% of the population has been vaccinated in Tirana where approx. one-third of the vaccinable population lives, as admitted the Minister herself. According to the Ministry of Health late official response, during October 2021-May of this year, over 626 thousand doses of anti-covid vaccine have been applied in Tirana, while all the other municipalities have a rate of no more than 332 thousand doses.

—————————————————————————-

In October last year, Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and Minister of Health, Ogerta Manastirliu, launched the door-to-door Covid-19 vaccination campaign at a meeting with municipal unit administrators aiming to raise awareness among citizens.

“This is a door-to-door action aiming to protect citizens’ life and health. We need to be all together, including Heads of Administrative Units as well. The actual vaccination rate in Tirana today is approx. 30%. In fact, one-third of our population over 18 years old lives in Tirana; hence, this population is precisely the target of vaccination”, said the Minister.

Administrators were assigned the tasks during the meeting by Mayor Veliaj: “Not only will we cooperate, but we will set some targets too as otherwise when everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.

Each one of you, as administrators, will be evaluated against the vaccination rate in your respective units and such assessment will be done in relation to me, not to Ogerta. So please, give it a serious thought; we will set you individual targets for each of your unit staffs. Such goal will also be aligned with the medical staff”.

Regarding the door-to-door vaccination process and its way of implementation, Faktoje addressed a request for information to the Ministry of Health.

Request for information sent to Ministry of Health

One of the questions asked to this institution was related to the target group intended to be reached by this campaign.

On 20 April, we received an official response from Ministry of Health:

“This process started applying in summer last year and keeps being covered even right now by Local Health Care Units and the Health Care Centre staff all over the country. For this campaign to be successful and to extend the vaccination to the whole territory of the country, in addition to other measures taken by relevant structures for mass vaccination of citizens even at the most distant locations of the country by HCSO structures, apart from other resources, a certain number of portable cars have been dedicated to it and put into use”, explains MoH.

Further one, focus of the campaign was officially announced to be on chronically ill people and elders over 60 years old.

But what is the purpose of this campaign according to the Ministry of Health:

“What we mean here is that, the goal of the door-to-door vaccination initiation phase was application of as many second doses as possible to the Albanian population; while, from November 2021, our goal has been extended to the application of the third (Booster) dose to the population and especially to the elderly with moving difficulties or unable to go to Health Care Facilities designated for vaccination”.

However, Ministry of Health does not provide, within its response, data on how many people have been vaccinated since announcing the door-to-door vaccination campaign.

In response to your information request, referring to the information provided by competent structures, kindly be informed as follows:

  1. Anti-CoVID-19 vaccination process in Albania is based and keeps being implemented in accordance with the National Strategy and the National Vaccination Plan approved by Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

Based on these documents, continuous developments of infection progress, as well as on measures for population protection and infection non-outbreak, Ministry of Health and Health Structures have therefore had population door-to-door vaccination against CoVID-19 among vaccination process priorities,

This process started applying in summer last year and keeps being covered even right now by Local Health Care Units and the Health Care Centre staff all over the country. For this campaign to be successful and to extend the vaccination to the whole territory of the country, in addition to other measures taken by relevant structures for mass vaccination of citizens even at the most distant locations of the country by HCSO structures, apart from other resources, a certain number of portable cars have been dedicated to it and put into use”, explains MoH.

Another crucial element of door-to-door vaccination campaign is the role of the Local Health Care Units structures throughout the country, which, through promotional and sensitization campaigns, have informed and keeps informing awareness of the population about vaccination and this campaign has also been extended to the most remote areas of the country.

  1. As mentioned above, the campaign was launched in summer 2021 and it keeps currently going. Vaccination process is ongoing and based on scientific developments of preventive measures for infection outbreak. What we mean here is that, the goal of the door-to-door vaccination initiation phase was application of as many second doses as possible to the Albanian population; while, from November 2021, our goal has been extended to the application of the third (Booster) dose to the population and especially to the elderly with moving difficulties or unable to go to Health Care Facilities designated for vaccination.
  1. “Door to Door” campaign is and keeps being applied to all age groups in Albania focusing on rural and mountainous areas; however, it has been and keeps being more focused on over 60-65 years old age group, on the chronically ill people and on those unable to go to Health Centres or vaccination points,

Thank you for your cooperation,

GENERAL SECRETARY

Geraldina Prodani [seal, signature]

Response of Ministry of Health, 20 April 2022

We addressed another request for information to the Ministry of Health, PHI and Health Care Service Operator specifically asking about vaccination figures, especially in Tirana where one-third of the vaccinable population is concentrated, as to the Minister’s statement.

Request for information sent to the three institutions, 19 May 2022

We received an incomplete response from Health Care Service Operator informing that 1,013,919 anti-Covid vaccine doses in total have been applied from October 2021 to 19 May 2022 in all vaccination points of the country.

“As regards vaccination process-related data provided by Municipalities/Administrative Units, kindly be informed that GDHCSO gathers general operational data from dependent institutions. Data published in CDC and WHO are reported by PHI”, further explains the Health Care Service Operator.

On 16 June, a month after the request for information, we received a response from Public Health Institute informing us about the vaccination figures of the whole country, but also specifically for Tirana.

“Only during October 2021- May 2022, 958,159 Covid-19 vaccines doses were administered. Only between October 2021 and May 2022. 626,102 Covid-19 vaccine have been applied in Tirana Municipality”, was officially announced by PHI.

It further states: “Health Centres with the lowest number of vaccinations in relation to area’s population, are:

Zall-Bastar HC/Zall-Bastar Administrative Unit

Peza HC/Peza Administrative Unit

Krraba HC/Krraba Administrative Unit

Qytet Studenti HC/Krraba Administrative Unit.”

Whereas Health Centres with the highest vaccination numbers are:

“HC 10/Administrative Unit No. 4

HC 8/Administrative Unit No. 5

HC 6/Administrative Unit No. 6

HC 1/Administrative Unit No. 2”

Furthermore, we addressed a request for information to Tirana Municipality, where, among others, we asked about the progress of vaccination process in Tirana following the announcing of ‘door-to-door’ vaccination action.

 

Request for information sent to Tirana Municipality, 19 May 2022

We received responses from administrative units affirming the following up of vaccination process, developing awareness and communication campaigns with citizens and medical staff.

In addition, Faktoje also contacted with other Capital Municipal Units Administrators informing us that, after Mayor Veliaj appeal, they held meetings with Health Centres Directors on anti-Covid vaccination.

“We have attended meetings with Health Centre Directors and with community liaisons as well asked them to give due importance to the vaccination. We have had no other orders or communications regarding this process”, was further clarified.

Administrative Unit No. 14

1 Nov 2021

Awareness raising meeting with community liaisons of Neighbourhood no. 14 on vaccination campaign

 

Facebook post by Administrative Unit 4

Faktoje asked the expert Mr. Erion Dasho, who points out that responsible institutions do not have the necessary infrastructure to conduct the door-to-door vaccination campaign.

“I have no on-site data as for the door-to-door campaign; however, I think that organizing such a campaign need consolidated logistic systems which cannot be provided by Ministry of Health and Institute of Public Health”, says Dasho.

The expert says that vaccination process in Albania is not at satisfactory levels.

I think that, with a little bit more than 2.8 million administered vaccine doses, vaccination campaign in Albania is not at satisfactory levels. According to the data provided by the Ministry, 1.3 million people are vaccinated with the first dose, 1.2 million with the second and about 300,000 vaccinated with the third dose.

Taking into consideration the administration of vaccine produced in China by most of these people, whose effectiveness was never clearly stated by EMA or FDA, it is then understood that effect of this campaign on protecting health and lives of citizens is highly questioned”, argues Dasho.

On-site verification

Faktoje conducted a verification in Shtiqën, a village in Kukës. Some of the residents say that groups of vaccinators went to their apartments, others deny such fact.

“No one has come for the vaccination, they lie. I did not get the vaccine at all”, says a village resident.

An old man confesses: They came in February-March this year, yes, they did. We were told that we should be vaccinated. I am vaccinated, I had both doses. I am diagnosed with heart issues; I will not take the third dose”.

We also went to Shtiqën Health Centre of the Northern City asking about the vaccination progress and whether they did go door-to-door to vaccinate and inform the population about the importance of anti-Covid vaccination.

Shtiqën Health Centre, May 2022

It is quiet here; vaccination rate is decreased as the touristic season starts and customs are facilitating measures. There is a little bit less work to be done. People plans to get vaccinated with their family doctor and then they come here to us to get vaccinated. There are also people who come willingly on their own due to travel reasons as they need a vaccine,” says the vaccinator of this centre.

Furthermore, she adds that during August last year, they went “door to door” to vaccinate the residents.

Shtiqën Health Centre, May 2022

“We also were part of the door-to-door vaccination campaign and in August we did it and it worked. We went and vaccinated people at their houses. Vaccine doses and the additional things were taken on Thermoses. Before getting vaccinated at home, they filled out the approval form”, stated the Shtiqën Health Centre Vaccinator.

 Vaccination figures

According to data provided by Ministry of Health, a total of 2,868,678 anti-COVID vaccinations have been administered since the start of vaccination process on 11 January 2021 to 8 June 2022; however, but there is no data for Tirana Municipality having the largest vaccinable population compared to other municipalities. Ministry of Health has also registered vaccinations performed by Albanian citizens abroad.

During July  2021, Minister of Health, Ms Ogerta Manastirliu, announced that vaccination teams would go door-to-door, throughout the summer, advancing with the vaccination campaign through mobile units.