Centre asks states to strengthen monitoring of adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccination

New Delhi, Nov 24: The Centre has asked states to take steps needed for strengthening surveillance of adverse events following immunisation before the COVID-19 vaccine is introduced, noting that preparations are underway for conducting the vaccinations starting with certain priority groups.
In its letter dated November 18, the Union health ministry listed initiatives which it said are essential to further strengthen the existing adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) surveillance system of India so that timely and complete AEFI reporting for COVID-19 inoculation is possible.
“I request that these initiatives are implemented at the earliest so that required changes take place well before the COVID-19 vaccine is introduced in the state and district,” the letter written by Dr Manohar Agnani, additional secretary in the ministry, said.
Listing the initiatives, the ministry asked all states and union territories to include medical specialists in addition to paediatricians in state and district AEFI committee saying COVID-19 vaccinations will be given to adults, many of whom may have comorbidities.
Mentioning events due to pre-existing comorbidities (stroke, heart attacks etc) may be reported as adverse effects following vaccinations, the ministry said that membership of state AEFI committees should be revised to include neurologists, cardiologists, respiratory medicine specialists who can recognise such events and differentiate them from events related to vaccines and vaccinations. “Similarly, directions may be issued to districts to include medical specialists (neurologists, cardiologists) in the district AEFI committees,” it said.
The ministry further asked each state to choose a medical college to function as the state AFEI technical collaborating centre.
The clinical specialists of the medical college (neurologists, cardiologists, respiratory medicine specialists in addition to paediatricians) and experts from the department of community medicine will assist the state and state AEFI committee in conducting rapid causality assessment, case investigations in districts, laboratory tests in certain cases to find the cause of AEFIs etc, it said. The new committee members or specialists should be oriented on the immunisation programme, COVID-19 vaccination, AEFI surveillance and conduction of causality assessment for AEFI cases, the letter stated. (PTI)

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