Sevda Sulejmanovska, a 28-year-old from Kumanovo and a mother of three, makes efforts to regularly vaccinate the two girls, eight-year-old Resmija and six-year-old Atidze, as well as three-year-old son Faik. But, she added that it often happens she misses a vaccine, especially for the third child, because she is engaged as a seasonal agricultural worker in towns in eastern and south-eastern Macedonia.
Sulejmanovska said “We receive notifications for vaccination regularly, but sometimes my husband and I stay away because of work up to three months. So, my mother-in-law looks after the children, but she has poor health and she cannot make a decision to take the children to a vaccination. Because of that, it can be said that sometimes we miss some vaccines.”
She added that she is aware of benefits of vaccination, but poverty and the struggle for existence force her to work out of town for three months, so she can provide the family with food.
Sulejmanovska added “I know that if children do not receive vaccines, they can get ill. But, we have to work to survive.” She said that her children have not faced with some more serious health problems until present, but she is afraid that they may get ill from some diseases that vaccines are used to protect against.
This 28-year-old woman from Kumanovo added “We talk to other mothers who are in a situation similar as mine and who do not take their children regularly to receive vaccines, but we have no other choice.”
Her chosen general practitioner also advised her to take her son to receive vaccines regularly.
Sulejmanovska added “If we had regular job here in Kumanovo, we would take the children to receive vaccines.” She is not the only person in Kumanovo who does not take the children to get vaccines. During a year, a large number of families of Roma ethnicity migrate in Macedonia, to towns in the south of Serbia and Montenegro as well, because of a temporary job. Also, a considerable number moved to Western European countries. The officials from institutions, the Center for Public Health and the Healthcare Home in Kumanovo, confirmed that during the celebration of the Immunization Week until April 30 this year, the vaccination cards of vulnerable groups were sifted through aimed at informing them again and reminding parents about the need for regular vaccination of children.
Dr Jadranka Stamenkovska, an epidemiologist in the Center for Public Health Kumanovo confirmed that children from the Roma ethnic community are among the vulnerable categories including those who are not immunized. This was discovered by the preventative teams while sifting through the cards.
Dr Stamenkovska stated “Children from settlements with majority Roma are among the sensitive categories and a larger number of children did not received vaccines because of the migration.” She explained, because of that letters were sent to invite parents to bring the children in the dispensaries according to the immunization calendar. But, she pointed that a large number of parents decide to either not take their children to receive vaccines or do not do it regularly as a result of intensive global anti-vaccine campaigns. According to epidemiologists, that is a problem since vaccines have to be received according to the planned immunization calendar. If they are not received, it is probable an epidemiology of a disease and further complications as well.
Dr Stamenkovska said “We make efforts for a coverage and a collective immunity above 95%. Thus, children who are not at the age for a specific vaccine will be protected as well as the chances for younger children to get sick will be minimized. Consequently, the probability of potential complications and deaths will be reduced.” She added that it decreased the coverage of 95% among all vaccines, but especially among vaccines for measles, rubella and parotitis. It is below 95% among other vaccines as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib and polio vaccine. In the area of re-vaccination, the coverage is at a high level, but it is noticeable the decrease in vaccination against measles, rubella and parotitis. Dr Stamenkovska said that some parents who are beneficiaries of an allowance for a third child and among those Roma have shown interest in regular vaccination. But, she added that it is necessary to develop consciousness among parents of regular vaccination in general. She emphasized that authorized institutions have to check if every child received vaccines regularly in order to achieve the intended coverage of 95%. Due to that, the preventative teams located in the Polyclinic Tode Mendol go out in field keeping to their plan previously made and vaccinate children according to the planned immunization calendar. Also, she added that polyvalent vaccines having more benefits are used since 2015.
According to the epidemiologist, the use of these vaccines helped to stop sticking so often, and teams can devote more time for prevention and consultations with parents. She invited all parents to talk about each ambiguity with chosen practitioners, pediatricians and preventative teams who are to explain all consequences, if there are any, and the reactions to meet with after a vaccine. She said that after the introduction of polyvalent vaccines, there are no cases of body temperature raised or convulsions compared to the previous period.
The experts explained that the vaccines were checked by the Agency for Medicines, are certificated, and also recommended by the World Health Organization. The European Immunization Week is celebrated under the slogan “Prevent. Protect. Immunize.”