Global Ageing Network presented the results of its study, Cross Cultural Snapshot of the Vaccine Distribution: A Provider Perspective in a webinar on February 15, 2022. Dr Emi Kiyota, chief investigator, interviewed providers in 12 countries to understand their experience with vaccine availability and deployment during the late fall of 2021. Across countries, vaccine availability was unreliable, prioritization was unclear and the inequities in access and administration were significant. Strong leadership at the provider level was critical. Hearing from Anna Cebrián from Spain, Vic Rayner from UK, and Femada Shamam from South Africa, several themes emerged.
Ongoing tensions between governments and health systems, on the one hand, and providers operating at the community level on the other inhibit the effective deployment of vaccines. Also, the lack of coordination between government agencies (especially health and social services) has created considerable confusion. Good collaboration is essential.
It was apparent that previous infection control policies fell short and aged care providers need to shore up infection control protocols. Across countries, there were considerably better outcomes when there was a government-driven response, as in Spain. Its very unsettling for the elders in long term care
Throughout the pandemic, there has been a real tension between personal choice and public health, as has been demonstrated in some of the vaccine hesitancy and rejection. In a public health crisis, communications are critical and when it is not present, there are significant negative consequences. Anna Cebrián noted that “it has been very unsettling for the elders in long term care.”
Further, the inequities in vaccine availability raises some important ethical issues that we – as a global community – need to address as there are implications not only for a future pandemic, but also respecting the rights of older adults and the critical role of providers.
The study was conducted with generous support from StandardsWise International, an Australian-based ‘thought leader’ and champion of quality standards. It underscores the value of shared knowledge across countries and provides an important framework as we seek to learn from the response to the pandemic. As David Stevens, President and CEO of StandardsWise International noted, “studies like this provide a hard body of evidence and context from which to build and, when added to the very practical provider experience, there is much we can learn and act upon.”
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