Romanian healthcare workers have received training in how to be more effective in promoting the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines, a step that authorities hope will help counter vaccine hesitancy.
The pilot program was organized by the World Health Organization and aims to address vaccine skepticism in the East European country and reassure citizens about the positives, WHO said.
The underlying principle is that health professionals are trusted figures and can lead by example and encourage patients to accept vaccines, including Covid inoculations.
WHO hopes medics and other healthcare staff can positively influence vaccine acceptance and uptake.
The news comes amid a rise in vaccine hesitancy in Romania and across Europe after a number of countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca after reports of blood clots. Romania temporarily paused the vaccine.
The WHO, Europe’s drug regulator and the International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis have all recommended that countries continue to use the vaccine.
More than 1.7 million people have received a Covid jab in Romania so far.
Thirty Romanian doctors and nurses took part in a series of online training courses in February 2021 piloted by WHO/Europe, a statement said. They were designed to develop communication skills among primary health workers.
Doctors and nurses were advised on how to deliver essential information “about lifesaving Covid-19 vaccinations,” reported..
The initiative aims to equip health workers with new approaches to address patient concerns during medical appointments.
Health workers are on the frontline of the pandemic both in terms of caring for patients and in delivering Covid-19 vaccines.
WHO/Europe believes that investment is needed to ensure health workers are well prepared for their role.
For the courses, WHO/Europe developed a training and resource package called “Communicating with patients about Covid-19 vaccination”.
“The training was a valuable opportunity to access theoretical information and practical strategies”, said Alina Negraru of the Romanian Association for Health Promotion, who participated in the course was quoted as saying.
“I am happy to have participated in this complex, interactive and motivational course.”
UNICEF and members of the Steering Advisory Board, a technical body set up to pilot the project in Romania.
Representatives from the National Society of Family Medicine, the Institute for Mother and Child Care, the Order of Nurses, Midwives and Medical Assistants, the Romanian Association for Health Promotion, the Center for Health Policies and Services, the health ministry, and the National Institute of Public Health took part in the first training session.
Participants learned how to communicate effectively with vaccine-hesitant individuals. These included listening and engaging in positive conversations to build trust, and respond to concerns on vaccine safety and effectiveness.
WHO plans to adapt the training and tools and make it available to all its members in Europe.