Vietnamese yearn for vaccine amid Covid resurgence

By Dang Khoa, Long Nguyen   July 21, 2021 | 08:16 am GMT+7
While the Covid-19 pandemic is returning with a vengeance, many people have registered for the vaccination, which is however nowhere in sight.

Le Thi Thuy of Hanoi’s Long Bien District could not hide her excitement to be able to finally register on an online immunization management platform last week.

"I felt relieved, after more than a year of living amid the pandemic, that the vaccination had finally arrived," she said. Her son and husband had got their first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at their workplace in June.

"The outbreak is coming back here in Hanoi, so the earlier I get the vaccine, the more I am at ease."

The capital has been recording an increase in the daily number of new cases, causing authorities to tighten restrictions.

But it has been almost 10 days since the registration, and the 53-year-old woman has received no information about the vaccine from the platform or local authorities.

She is among many people anxiously waiting for vaccination as the country battles its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. As of Wednesday, it has recorded 65,551 Covid cases in the current outbreak, starting on April 27.

Duong Thi Loi, 61, a resident in Go Vap’s Ward 12, is inoculated against Covid-19 in a historic vaccination campaign initiated by Ho Chi Minh City, June 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

A resident in Go Vap district is inoculated against Covid-19 in a historic vaccination campaign initiated by Ho Chi Minh City, June 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

A survey by United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) found 67 percent of Vietnamese eager to get immunized.

"The willingness to get the vaccine bodes extremely well for Vietnam and for the vaccination rollout to get Vietnam open to get business back on track," Rana Flowers of UNICEF said.

On social media, many people who have got vaccinated shared their vaccination stories and experiences, attracting great interest.

As of Wednesday, the country had received 10.6 million vaccine doses from various sources.

A vaccination campaign starting in March prioritized medical staff, frontline workers and certain other categories of people.

In the nation of 96 million, 4.3 million have so far vaccinated though only about 310,000 have gotten two shots.

Many people are willing to pay for their shots, regardless of price.

According to the Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), an importer of Covid vaccines, nearly one million people have registered with it for vaccination though it has not announced detailed plans or even the price.

"I do not care about prices, I just want my family to get vaccinated and be safe," Truong Anh Thu, a Hanoi housewife said.

She has registered her four-member family with VNVC, but has no idea when they can get their jabs.

Last week, when the national immunization management platform enabled online registration for vaccination, many people including expats registered.

Authorities have gone from door to door to notify people about the registration.

In Saigon, the nation’s Covid epicenter, a ward leader told Nguyen Thi Kim, 67, about the vaccination on Sunday, and she immediately filled in a form, hoping she will be eligible.

"If I get the vaccine, I can go shopping confidently," she said. In the last few weeks, with the city under lockdown, her son, who has had one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has been the only family member to step out of home.

Around 2,000 merchants of the Binh Dien market in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 8 flocked to be tested for Covid-19, July 5, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Around 2,000 merchants of the Binh Dien market in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 8 flock to be tested for Covid-19, July 5, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Keep waiting

Many people who having registered for the vaccine are however fretting that the vaccination is not in sight while the number of infections keeps spiking.

Doan Van Tung, 66, of Saigon’s District 3 said: "My son has registered for me. I am not picky about what vaccine they give me since I just want to protect me and my family from the virus."

HCMC officials have announced plans to immunize 1.1 million people using Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines within the next three weeks.

The city Department of Health said those prioritized for vaccination are "vulnerable people" living in areas deemed very high risk and high risk and other categories of people approved by the government.

Officials said they plan to set up 630 vaccination sites in 312 wards and communes across the city. At each, 120 people will get shots every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. to ensure social distancing.

But no specific start date has been announced for this.

The program was scheduled to begin on July 18 but has been postponed.

Saigonese are greatly worried especially because the second 15-day social distancing period is only three days away from ending. The widespread fear is that the stay-at-home order will be extended, and they cannot hold on much longer physically, mentally and, for many, economically.

"I know that we cannot walk out of this pandemic without the vaccines, I want to have it as soon as possible, and so do people around me," Tung said. He has not been gone out for nearly a month due to fear of infection.

Vietnam targets vaccinating 70 percent of its population by next April, with half of those aged 18 and above immunized this year.

Up to now, the nation has secured deals for 105 million doses of vaccines and is in talks with other manufacturers on deals for a further 70 million shots, the government said, adding it hoped to receive the shots in 2021 and early 2022.

 
 
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