Vaccination is one of the primary health care priorities for people who have fled war in Ukraine and found asylum in the Czech Republic. Children for whom it is not possible to prove previous vaccination are considered unvaccinated and are revaccinated according to the Czech vaccination schedule. However, it is not yet known how many such children are among the new arrivals, that is, how many vaccines will have to be provided. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides has already promised to help provide the vaccines. Specifically, it should be vaccines against tuberculosis, measles and other infectious diseases commonly vaccinated in the Czech Republic.
The condition for joining the group of Ukrainian children is a medical examination by a pediatrician and verification of the vaccination record. Based on the recommendation of the Czech Vaccine Society ČLS JEP, if it is not possible to prove vaccination, the child will be considered unvaccinated and should be revaccinated according to the Czech vaccination schedule. “If the child’s parents or other carers do not provide documentation of their vaccination, they will be treated as unvaccinated and vaccination will be initiated during this first medical examination. In some cases, it is possible to rely temporarily to the anamnestic data of the parents/accompanying persons and to postpone the vaccination for a maximum of 4 weeks”, explains Ondřej Jakob, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.
However, it is not yet known how many children coming from Ukraine will be affected by the need for (up)vaccination. This means that at present it is not even known how many vaccines Czechia will need and against which diseases. “There are currently enough vaccines and more are being ordered both from the distributor and via the European Commission,” adds Jakob. However, the professional society of general pediatricians of the Czech Medical Association JEP warns that pediatricians have already suffered from a lack of vaccines. “It is very urgent to provide vaccines. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and we have been promised that I will deal with the situation with acuity. So I have to believe that we will have something to vaccinate,” says Alena Šebková, president of the company.
Various (un)vaccinated children from Ukraine show up at pediatricians’ offices
General practitioners for children and adolescents are already seeing pediatric patients from Ukraine in their practices and are facing the first difficulties. Verification of the vaccination record, if it is available to the parents, either physically or in copy, including electronically, then is part of the first medical examination by a pediatrician. “The situation varies from site to site. Children arrive fully vaccinated, where vaccination is documented. There, it is quite simple, because the vaccination schedule of Ukraine is at most identical to ours. So we can continue there according to our schedule. However, if the parents do not prove that the child has been vaccinated, this is called vaccination, which is mandatory in our country, the child is considered unvaccinated. And then it follows the professional recommendations and the legislation of the Czech Republic, especially with regard to the team”, explains Šebková.
Daniel Dražan, pediatrician and member of the Committee of the Czech Vaccine Society of the Czech Medical Association JEP, also admits certain operational difficulties in the practices of paediatricians: “Some children do not have vaccination cards, others have , also present, i.e. vaccination problems are more difficult to explain to our parents. The presence of Ukrainians who speak Czech and live in the Czech Republic in medical practices will help a lot, but it is not always possible to organize it. According to the limited experience so far, incoming Ukrainians do not know much. “
According to him, the situation in PLDD surgeries is still manageable, but often because many Ukrainian parents and their children have not yet undergone an initial medical examination. Thus, a greater burden can be expected in these surgeries. “Due to the low capacity of pediatric general practitioners, it will not be easy,” adds Dražan. An additional and unnecessary burden could be a possible obligation to carry out serological tests as an alternative to vaccinating a child for whom there is no demonstrable evidence of previous vaccination. “I can’t imagine something like this happening. It’s financially and logistically demanding and completely unnecessary. We don’t even know the protective level of antibodies for certain diseases,” points out a committee member of a professional society. .
The Professional Association of Pediatric General Practitioners of the Czech Medical Association JEP perceives uncertainty about the future burden associated with children coming from Ukraine for child practitioners. “It very much depends on the percentage of children who are not vaccinated. Accordingly, we can wonder whether PLDD practices can handle this or whether a special system will be created for these children, such as an ambulance system providing outpatient care. to war refugees under a special regime. Or a combination of the two. You have to realize that it’s not just about vaccinations, but the examination of children about whom nothing is known will take much longer,” adds Šebková, adding that it very much depends on the specific localities “Somewhere PLDD surgeries are already at the ceiling of their capacity,” he concludes.
Vaccines for Ukrainian children are discussed across Europe
Vaccine producers, which are commonly used in the compulsory vaccination of children in the Czech Republic, take care of the supply of the necessary vaccines. Vaccination schedules for children are comparable between EU member states, although they may differ in detail. “We are constantly assessing demand in all neighboring countries to ensure that we have adequate GSK products to meet the current and future needs of all residents, including refugees,” says Miriam Kejzlarova, Head of Communications at GSK.
The need to provide vaccines to refugees from Ukraine has also become a topic for EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “Children will need to continue their routine vaccinations. Through the European Health Crises Management Office (HERA), we are working to provide vaccines against tuberculosis, poliomyelitis and other infectious diseases”, a- she said in a speech at a meeting of EU ministers and health ministers. According to Kyriakides, mutual European unity in crisis management, including in the field of health, is the most appropriate response to the current situation.”Our unity is the strongest response,” she added.