Vietnam to start Covid-19 inoculation next Monday: health minister

By Le Nga   March 5, 2021 | 12:40 am PT
Vietnam to start Covid-19 inoculation next Monday: health minister
An airport worker inspects a batch of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines that arrive at Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCMC, Feb. 24, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Prioritized groups will be injected with the first batch of 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccines next Monday after quality checks had been passed, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long says.

The move came following Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's order, requiring the poor, families under preferential treatment and some prioritized groups approved by the government to be inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine quickly.

The first batch of 30 million vaccines Vietnam ordered from AstraZeneca arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on a flight from Seoul last Wednesday. After working with South Korea to evaluate the quality of the batch, the health ministry said the vaccine is eligible for inoculation, Long told a Friday meeting.

On Saturday, the ministry will host a conference on the implementation of large-scale vaccination, nationwide training on receiving, using and preserving vaccines, as well as handling post-vaccination complications.

Two days later, those directly treating Covid-19 patients at 18 medical facilities and prioritized categories of people in 13 pandemic-hit localities, with Covid-19 epicenter Hai Duong given the highest priority, will be among the first to be vaccinated.

In April, Vietnam would receive an additional 1.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring Covid-19 vaccines and supply for member countries.

Long said the vaccination does not guarantee 100 percent immunity against Covid-19.

According to AstraZeneca, the vaccine is 76 percent effective, with the second shot measured at 81 percent.

Therefore, Long stressed everyone continues complying with pandemic prevention measures.

Earlier, the government had approved a list of prioritized groups to be vaccinated against Covid-19, which included frontline medical workers, military, and police forces.

Others in the priority list are teachers, diplomatic personnel, customs and immigration officers, those working in essential services like transport, people aged 65 and above, and those with chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable to the disease.

Those seeking to study or work abroad or are living in pandemic-hit areas are also listed.

While the production of domestic vaccines is underway, the government has speeded up foreign procurement to inoculate prioritized groups.

The government has said it is stepping up negotiations with vaccine manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and some other countries to ensure it could obtain a total 150 million doses to cover 70 percent of its population.

It has also approved the use of Moderna and Sputnik V vaccines.

Vietnam, a country of 98 million people, has reported 879 community transmissions in 13 cities and provinces during the ongoing outbreak that returned to the country on Jan. 28 after a 55-day clean streak.

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