Vietnam hastens Covid vaccine rollout out of expiration concerns

By Thuy An   April 16, 2021 | 01:32 am PT
Vietnam hastens Covid vaccine rollout out of expiration concerns
A medical worker holds up a Covid-19 vaccine dose by AstraZeneca at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, March 8, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The Health Ministry has pushed the completion deadline for inoculating the second Covid-19 shots 10 days earlier to May 5 due to concerns about vaccine expiration.

At an online meeting with local authorities on Covid-19 prevention on Friday, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said the Covid-19 vaccine batch with more than 800,000 doses by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca distributed to Vietnam through global vaccine access mechanism Covax would expire on May 31.

As such, localities must complete their second Covid-19 vaccination round before May 5, instead of the May 15 deadline as stated in a previous document issued by the health ministry. Vaccine shots must not be wasted just because an inoculation schedule isn't realized, he added.

"If localities don't use up all the vaccine shots they have been provided with, the health ministry would reclaim all the shots instead," Long said.

Vietnam received 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses through its order from the producer in late February, and another 811,200 doses through Covax on April 1. The ministry has distributed vaccine doses to 28 cities and provinces. Over 73,000 people have been vaccinated nationwide. The first Covid-19 vaccination round is expected to be completed within this month.

Duong Thi Hong, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said vaccine doses typically don't last more than two months. The Covid-19 vaccine is a new type of vaccine, and as such safety cautions for it are continually being updated.

Vietnam aims to secure around 150 million vaccine doses to cover 70 percent of its population by next year.

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