At the sitting held on 24 March 2021, the Subcommittee for monitoring the epidemiological situation due to the presence of the infectious disease COVID-19 discussed the characteristics of the vaccines available in Serbia and present experience.
Opening the sitting, Subcommittee Chairperson Dr Dragana Barisic stressed that immunization is a particularly important measure for the protection of the population from infectious diseases.
Dr Vladan Saponjic and Dragana Plavsa, epidemiologists of the Institute of Public Health "Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut", presented the most important characteristics of the vaccines used in Serbia, as well as previous results of the immunization.
Dr Saponjic said that immunization is a great undertaking for Serbia’s healthcare system as well as the entire society. The COVID-19 vaccine was secured at the end of 2020, first by Pfizer, the first dose of which was administered on 24 December 2020, followed by the successive introduction of new vaccines. Dr Saponjic stressed that today, we have four vaccines in use in Serbia - Pfizer, Sputnik "V", Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, adding that this is worthy of pride and praise. He presented the characteristics of all four vaccines to the members of the Subcommittee in detail.
Immunization is carried out by over 400 teams every day in 232 healthcare institutions and more than 30 emergency vaccination points, said Dr Vladan Saponjic, adding that so far more than 2 million doses of vaccines have been administered in Serbia, with over 860,000 people having received both doses. Immunization is evenly distributed, with the largest percentage of those vaccinated covering the category of over 65 years of age. This is in line with the vaccination priorities established to reduce the mortality rate among the oldest population category. Now, we are moving on to the immunization of younger population categories so as to reduce the transmission of the virus, Dr Saponjic stressed.
The sitting was attended by Subcommittee members Prof. Dr Aleksandra Pavlovic Markovic, Rajka Matovic and Sofija Maksimovic, as well as the Chairman of the Health and Family Committee Dr Sci.med Darko Laketic. In a conversation with the epidemiologists of the Institute of Public Health "Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut", they were received additional information and an opinion on the Crisis Response Team’s restrictive measures being introduced in parallel with the immunization process, vaccination of people allergic to penicillin, correlation and control of d-dimers in the blood of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine vaccination of pregnant women, as well as on the formation of antibodies and protection against this virus after vaccination. Dr Sci.med Laketic was also interested in the data on the percentage of vaccinated people who had previously been infected by COVID-19, stating that it is very important in term of acquisition of collective immunity.
The participants agreed that one gets the impression that part of the population seems to be becoming infected after receiving the vaccine. Actually, what happens is that after receiving the vaccine people relax and behave more freely which leads to infection before immunity has developed, so it is vital to wear a mask and maintain social distance after the vaccination.
Concluding the sitting, Subcommittee Chairperson Dr Dragana Barisic urged the citizens to respond to vaccination and choose a vaccine they would like administered, because that is the only way to combat the pandemic. Science and common sense have to defeat the sceptics and conspiracy theorists whose unverified information stir up confusion, said Dr Barisic.