Despite the uncertainty of global and local health sectors, the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BoMRA) has taken steps to educate the media about Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) and safety monitoring of vaccines. This initiative, BoMRA believes, will assist the media to provide more balanced information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The lecture was shared before key media stakeholders as part of BoMRA’s mandate to educate stakeholders on Safe, Effective use of Medical Products, Cosmetics, and their regulation.
The media plays a crucial role in our societies in battling vaccine misinformation. Therefore it is important that information disseminated by media about the vaccines must be accurate and factual. Rumors and misinformation about the safety of vaccines are amongst the most serious threats to the success of any immunisation program.
For his part, the BoMRA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Ghanie said the engagement aims to provide the media with a clearer understanding of vaccine safety and reporting of adverse events following immunisation in order for the media to improve the quality of their stories to be more substantiated about vaccine safety and the role of BoMRA in medical products regulation.
In his presentation Dr. Partha Gurumurthy, Director, Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials said all medicines and vaccines go through phases of clinical trials to evaluate efficacy and safety of the products before they are approved. However at times these trials may be fast tracked due to the urgent need like the ones of Ebola vaccine and CoVID-19 vaccine. Monitoring safety of. Hence the active safety monitoring of such medical products in such situations is all the more important.
According to Dr. Partha, vaccines are designed to give immunity without the dangers of getting the disease. It’s common to experience some mild-to-moderate side effects when receiving vaccinations. This is because the immune system is instructing our body to react in certain ways: it increases blood flow so more immune cells can circulate, and it raises our body temperature in order to kill the virus.
Dr Thabang Phetlhe, Pharmacovigilance Officer, BoMRA presented to the media members on how AEFIs are captured, reported, investigated and assessed. He described the role of different stakeholders like Health facilities, Sub national committees and National AEFI Committee in the safety monitoring of vaccines.
In conclusion, Dr. Ghanie said “He would like to thank all our media stakeholders for the ongoing partnerships and support and further look forward to serving them in the future. Without their efforts and support, we would not be able to fulfill our mandate.”