QCOSTARICA – The pace with which COVID-19 vaccines are being developed worries some people, who fear they are not safe products.
Both Leandra Abarca, coordinator of the Expanded Immunization System of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), and Pedro González, vice minister of Health, are emphatic that people will have an effective and safe product.
“We cannot deny that the vaccine was produced more quickly. It went from ten years (which usually takes a vaccine to be approved) to one year, and not a single phase of research was skipped; all are being fulfilled,” explained Abarca.
González complemented: “the process has been rigorous. Approvals by regulatory bodies are not taken lightly. Even in an emergency, they are rigorous processes”.
“What can cause side effects? All vaccines can have side effects. Every drug has side effects, but people can be calm when they get the vaccine,” he added.
Rigorous surveillance for side effects
Each adverse event recorded by a vaccinated person will be rigorously followed by a specific committee.
Costa Rica already has pharmacovigilance committees that analyze side effects of any drug, but a specific one was created for the covid-19 vaccine.
“There is a team that is meeting specifically for the issue of covid-19 vaccination, to make a more expeditious, more rigorous process, of some undesirable effect or something unforeseen, so that there is an immediate alert and the pertinent actions are taken,” Stressed González.
Abarca adds: “as we vaccinate more and more people, we will have a greater presence of adverse effects. That is normal, every drug has the possibility of an adverse event and vaccines are a drug, but the benefit for the population is greater ”.
Vaccine will not be mandatory
González indicated that, even though in public health issues there may be a need to make vaccination mandatory, this will not be done.
“This is a very, very important weapon in the fight against the pandemic, not the only one but very important. We must build that immunity.
“The advantage is that vaccination campaigns in Costa Rica are very successful,” González specified.
Abarca indicates that the population must take into account all the advantages of applying immunization.
“The benefit that the vaccine will bring us in terms of public health is very great,” he says.
It is not miraculous, other measures must be maintained
Despite the efficacy of the vaccine, both González and Abarca assert that this does not mean that once vaccinated, people can neglect the other measures against covid-19.
“The vaccine is a complement, but hand hygiene must continue, staying home if we feel respiratory symptoms must continue. This not only prevents covid-19, but other diseases,” said Abarca.
The director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also warns that the vaccine is perhaps the most important tool in the fight against the pandemic, but it cannot be the only one.
“A vaccine alone is not going to end the pandemic. We will continue to need surveillance of cases, to perform diagnostic tests, isolate cases and give them the care they require, to remind each of us how careful we must be with our hygiene and physical distancing measures,” said Ghebreyesus Friday at a press conference.