Over 300 pharmacists and 110 pharmacies are at the centre of a new awareness-raising campaign on COVID-19 vaccination in the Republic of Moldova.
Launched on 24 September 2021 by the Ministry of Health and the Association of Pharmacists, the campaign is supported by WHO/Europe and the European Union (EU).
About 150 000 people visit pharmacies in the Republic of Moldova every day, making them the most visited medical points in the country. Pharmacists, especially in rural areas, are trusted and visible sources of medical information for their customers.
Dr Zinaida Bezverhni, State Secretary, Ministry of Health said during the launch event, “Vaccination against COVID-19 protects people from serious forms of the disease. Being at the forefront of communication with patients, pharmacists can provide people with scientifically proven information, helping to increase the acceptability of the vaccine and increase the vaccination rate among the population”.
A set of information materials, including leaflets, stickers for patients, and questions and answers for pharmacists was developed. The materials also encourage the public to consult the government’s official websites on COVID-19 and vaccination.
Prior to the launch of the information campaign, a series of trainings – covering COVID-19 infection, communicating about vaccines, tackling vaccine hesitancy, and debunking myths related to COVID-19 vaccines – was organized for pharmacists with WHO support. More than 300 pharmacists participated in the training sessions. Participants were also shown the WHO LENA mobile phone application, to help them in communicating facts to patients. The LENA app was developed by WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Romania to facilitate communication about COVID-19 vaccination and to identify and respond to concerns.
Dr Alexei Ceban, epidemiologist and immunization programme coordinator, WHO Country Office in the Republic of Moldova, pointed out that, “patients often turn to pharmacists when they need useful information or recommendations. For these reasons, pharmacists have a key role to play in establishing a constructive dialogue and empowering people on immunization”.
The EU and WHO/Europe are working together to support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination in the 6 EU Eastern Partnership countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The project, funded by the EU and implemented by WHO/Europe, serves as a major investment to strengthen routine immunization systems in the 6 countries.
Photo: A pharmacist from the Republic of Moldova involved in the COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign, WHO