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WHO updates COVID-19 vaccination strategy to reach unprotected populations

The update raises targets to vaccinate 100% of healthcare workers and 100% of the highest risk populations with primary and booster doses

WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published an update of its COVID-19 vaccination strategy to target those at the greatest risk who remain unprotected.

The Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy in a Changing World lays out updated global guidelines responding to the spread of Omicron sub-variants, advances in vaccine evidence and lessons from the global vaccination programme, with the aim of ‘reducing deaths, keeping societies open and ensuring economies function as transmission continues’.

WHO’s strategy update increases the 70% vaccination target to 100% of healthcare workers and 100% of the highest risk populations with both primary and booster doses, including older populations and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions.

According to WHO, despite over 12 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines having been administered globally, only 28% of older populations and 37% of healthcare workers in low-income countries have been vaccinated with their primary series. Moreover, 27 of WHO’s member states have not yet started a booster or additional dose programme, 11 of which are low-income countries.

WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Even where 70% vaccination coverage is achieved, if significant numbers of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and the global recovery will be at risk.

“Vaccinating all those most at risk is the single best way to save lives, protect health systems and keep societies and economies open.”

To ensure vaccines reach the highest priority groups, the updated strategy emphasises the need to measure progress in vaccinating these groups using targeted approaches. This includes techniques such as using local data and engaging communities to sustain demand for vaccines, building systems for vaccinating adults and reaching more displaced people through humanitarian response.

The updated strategy also outlines that ‘significant progress’ has been made against three of the goals laid out in 2021 to: ‘minimise deaths, severe diseases, and overall disease burden; curtail the health system impact; and fully resume socio-economic activity’. Despite this, WHO stated the fourth strategy goal of transmission reduction through vaccination has been ‘difficult to attain’.

The strategy will be assessed again in the last quarter of 2022 with a view to provide a revised global COVID-19 vaccination strategy for 2023.

Article by
Emily Kimber

25th July 2022

From: Healthcare

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