Covid-19 vaccination rate sluggish as provinces await supplies

By Viet Tuan, Duc Hung, Nguyen Hai   November 24, 2021 | 05:00 pm PT
Vietnam's target of vaccinating all adults in 2021 looks difficult now with many provinces unlikely to achieve the target because they lack vaccine doses.

Until now, there are just 23 of Vietnam's 63 cities and provinces that have finished inoculating all people over 18 with the first shot.

Of them, only 12 have fully vaccinated more than 80 percent of their adult population: An Giang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Bac Ninh, Dong Nai, Ha Nam, Hanoi, HCMC, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Long An and Quang Ninh.

There are now four provinces with a first-dose vaccination rate of less than 70 percent of the adult population: Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Son La, and Quang Binh; and 11 provinces with a second dose rate of less than 30 percent of their adult population.

The northern mountainous province of Son La is now the locality with the lowest vaccination rate in the country, with less than 61 percent of adults having had the first shot and 18 percent of them getting fully vaccinated.

Nguyen Tien Dung, director of Son La's Center for Disease Control, said that given the current situation, it would not be until early next year that the province would be able to cover all adults with the second dose.

"From now until December-end, we will continue to receive vaccines allocated by the Ministry of Health. The province will do the best it could to cover 75 percent of adults with two doses, but the progress will rely on the ministry's vaccine supply," he said.

The central province of Ha Tinh, which has administered 1.1 million vaccine doses, has an actual demand of 1.8 million.

For now, it does not have enough vaccines to reach the target of fully vaccinating all adults within this year.

"Whether that target is achieved or not depends on the Health Ministry," said an official of the province’s health department who did not want to be named.

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in Ha Tinh Province, June 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in Ha Tinh Province, June 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

Nghe An Province, which neighbors Ha Tinh, has reported a similar situation. The province has administered more than 2.8 million doses and 1.4 million people have got two shots, meaning a full vaccination rate of 56.2 percent.

As planned, the province will be provided with enough vaccine to cover all adults with two shots within this year.

"Nghe An has enough capacity to achieve the target. What matters most is that the ministry provides enough vaccine so that we can stay on track," said a health department representative who wanted to remain unnamed.

With a second dose vaccination rate of 25.9 percent, Ha Giang Province is facing several difficulties in boosting the inoculation progress, said its deputy chairman Tran Duc Quy.

He said the vaccination for ethnic groups cannot be carried out quickly as expected for a number of reasons, including the mountainous terrain in many places, which make places difficult to get access.

At the same time, it needs the village chiefs to call for members of those groups to take the shot, said Quy.

The Ministry of Health last week complained about low vaccination rates in certain localities but local authorities then explained that the problem was actually a lack of distributed doses, saying they have not been allocated enough to cover all adults with the first dose, far less the second one.

Vietnam has given 67.8 million at least one vaccine shot and 45.1 million people have received two shots.

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