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What Should Kazakhstan Citizens Know About the Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccination?

The mass vaccination against coronavirus begins in Kazakhstan on February 1. However, it will take place amid the most unsuitable epidemiological situation. In January, the country changed a safe «green» zone to a high-risk «red» zone.

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Currently, Kazakhstan prepares for mass vaccination. More than two thousand healthcare workers are already trained in vaccination procedures, as well as in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination process.

In addition, the vaccination stations are prepared, in particular, the measures are taken to ensure the conditions of the cold chain at all levels of healthcare (purchase of freezers, thermal containers); standard operating procedures are approved for conducting preventive vaccination and compliance with the conditions of the cold chain during transportation and storage of vaccines.

We analysed and tried to answer frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.

When will the vaccination begin and what vaccine will be used?

Officially, on February 1, 2021, the vaccination with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will begin. The number of vaccines is 20 thousand: there is an agreement to supply this batch by a single shipment to Kazakhstan.

Starting from February 15, the Sputnik V vaccine produced by the Karaganda pharmaceutical complex will be registered; the production of the first batch of 90 thousand vaccines already began, which will be available for shipment to the warehouses of a single distributor and further to the regions from February 26. By July, the production volume at this complex will be increased to 2 million vaccines.

From the second quarter of this year, a Kazakh-made vaccine QazCovid-in (which is in the third phase of clinical trials now) is planned to be used in the vaccination process.

Who will be vaccinated first?

The vaccination will be carried out in stages, taking into account the supply of the vaccine.

The vulnerable groups of the population at a high risk of infection and spread of coronavirus will be vaccinated first. Next, the rest of the population will be vaccinated.

In detail, the following groups of the population will be vaccinated at the first stage:

  • healthcare workers of infectious diseases hospitals,
  • ambulance,
  • intensive care units,
  • emergency hospitals,
  • hospital admissions,
  • sanitary and epidemiological service

The second stage of vaccination will include:

  • teachers of secondary schools and universities,
  • other healthcare workers.

The third stage of vaccination will include:

  • teachers of boarding schools and preschool institutions,
  • students,
  • persons with chronic diseases.

In the future, it is planned to increase the number of vaccinated persons by including additional vulnerable groups of the population: employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense, National Security Committee, State Security Service and others.

When will the rest of the citizens be vaccinated?

Most likely, starting from April-May 2021, the vaccination will become available to a wider audience.

It is expected that about six million people will be vaccinated by the end of the year if the vaccines are registered and available on the market.

Should I pay for vaccination?

Kazakhstan citizens will receive free vaccination within the guaranteed volume of free healthcare. According to the Ministry of Health, 50 billion tenge ($118.5 million) will be allocated from the budget to vaccinate Kazakhstan citizens against coronavirus.

I already had COVID-19; do I still need to receive vaccine?

Yes, but according to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, the vaccination is possible no earlier than 6 months after the disease.

Is the vaccination mandatory? Can I refuse?

Yes, you can. The vaccination is voluntary in the country. According to Article 77 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on People’s Health and the Healthcare System, any medical procedure, including vaccination, is carried out only with the citizen’s consent. There is no administrative or criminal liability for refusal to vaccinate in Kazakhstan. Any coercion is illegal. In addition, according to this Code, every citizen has the right to refuse vaccination in a written form.

Is the coronavirus vaccine dangerous? Is there a side effect?

To determine contraindications, a vaccine instruction with comprehensive information on indications for use, contraindications to the vaccine, possible side effects after vaccination, methods of administration, storage and transportation conditions of the vaccine is required. Considering this, it is not possible to list the contraindications now.

It should be noted that the human body responds to any vaccine by producing immunity, as well as the development of side effects after immunization. This can be a short-term increase in body temperature, redness and swelling in the vaccine shot site.

Before vaccination, a mandatory examination by a doctor is carried out with measurement of body temperature, taking an epidemiological history, measurement of saturation, heart rate, blood pressure, auscultation of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and examination of the throat. If the temperature exceeds 37 degrees, the vaccination will be postponed.

Before the vaccination, the vaccinated person signs a voluntary informed consent or refusal to carry out preventive vaccination.

To whom the coronavirus vaccine is contraindicated:

  • persons with hypersensitivity to any component of a vaccine or a vaccine containing similar components;
  • a history of severe allergic reactions;
  • pregnancy and the period of breastfeeding;
  • persons under 18 and over 65 years of age (due to the lack of data on efficiency and safety).

The contraindications for the second component of the Sputnik V vaccine are severe post-vaccination complications (anaphylactic shock, severe generalized allergic reactions, convulsive syndrome, and fever of 40 degrees) after the first component of the vaccine.

Does it mean that children will not be vaccinated against coronavirus?

The Sputnik V vaccine is contraindicated for children under 18, so only adult citizens of Kazakhstan will be able to receive it.

The vaccine produced in Kazakhstan is currently at the third stage of clinical trials. There is no approved instruction for it yet, so the population groups that will receive it are still unknown.

What about allergies to vaccine components?

Before vaccinating, the healthcare worker will ask if the patient has an allergy. If there is a serious allergic disease, the person will get medical exemption from the vaccination. At the same time, it is impossible to predict an allergic reaction, since each reaction is individual.

For the early response, a person should remain under medical supervision (in the healthcare facility) for the first 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine: the allergic reaction can appear during this period. Within three days, the vaccinated person will be under the supervision of a local doctor at the place of residence.

In addition, each vaccinated person will be provided with a special brochure indicating the possible side effects of the vaccine and the phone numbers of clinics they can contact in case of such effects.

Why are two doses of vaccine necessary?

The coronavirus vaccine should be given in two doses 21 days apart. The first dose provides a short-term protective effect due to the production of small amounts of antibodies. The second dose enhances and consolidates the effect of the first one; the amount of antibodies in the human body increases.

Did the Russian Sputnik V vaccine pass a quality control tests?

The vaccine is registered in Russia and is used to vaccinate vulnerable groups for several months now. According to the Direct Investment Fund of the Russian Federation, about 50 countries applied for the vaccine, and some countries, in particular Belarus, Argentina and Serbia, successfully use it already.

According to the current legislation, when importing unregistered medical products into the territory of Kazakhstan, it is necessary to have a digital copy of the manufacturer’s document confirming the quality of the medical product translated into Kazakh or Russian languages (certificates of analysis or test report, or a quality control passport with quality assessment indicators).

The decree of the government of Kazakhstan of December 15, 2020 No. 850 approved the rules for temporary state registration of COVID-19 vaccines produced in Kazakhstan.

See also: What About Covid-19 Vaccination in Kyrgyzstan? Here’s the Explanation

Are there negotiations with other vaccine manufacturers?

Currently, the country’s Ministry of Health is negotiating with different manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines, including Sinovac, Sinopharm (China), Phizer (USA).

Some say a vaccine is a «chipping» of the population. Is it true?

No, not a single vaccine in Kazakhstan contains microchip implants. Before being vaccinated, everyone has the right to read the instructions, which provide information on the vaccine components.

What is a digital vaccine passport? 

The digital vaccine passport is the medical history of vaccinations. It is a key document in the healthcare sector for providing continuous management, control and monitoring of the vaccination of population.

Currently, the development of this passport is almost complete. The passport will work via the information resources of the Ministry of Health for healthcare workers, and for patients – via the eGov Mobile application.

The digital vaccine passport will be available in the eGov Mobile application immediately after the vaccination procedure. The passport will contain information about the citizen, the type of vaccine he/she received, the stages of the vaccination procedure, as well as observation during the post-vaccination period.

Will the citizens who did not receive the coronavirus vaccine be limited in movement within Kazakhstan?

No. Today, the country does not intend to restrict free movement within the republic for persons who did not receive preventive vaccination against COVID-19.

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