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Vietnamese in Europe do their bit in the fight against Covid

By Viet Anh    May 24, 2021 | 06:02 pm PT
Vietnamese in the U.K., Germany, France and Italy, though confident about how authorities are tackling Covid-19, are not letting their guard down.

Vu Kim Thanh, a Vietnamese man living in London, the U.K., got his second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-May. He only had a mild headache.

He was eager to get the vaccine though some people had warned him he could be killed. But he thought he needed to trust the government in selecting and arranging vaccination programs.

"I need to believe in science in dealing with the pandemic."

He has noticed that a large number of people, both Vietnamese and westerners, were keen to get the shots.

Government data shows over 22.6 million people in the U.K., or 43 percent of the adult population, have been fully vaccinated by May 22. Nearly 38 million, or 72 percent of the adults, have received their first shots.

People queue outside a vaccination centre against the Covid-19, at the Science Museum in London, Britain, May 19, 2021. Photo byReuters.

People queue outside a Covid-19 vaccination center at the Science Museum in London, U.K., May 19, 2021. Photo by Reuters.

Thanh says the authorities have taken more effective measures in containing the virus from the beginning of 2021 compared to the same period last year when Covid first emerged.

Small shops are gradually allowed to open, and people can visit each other at home in small numbers.

Thanh is highly appreciative of the way the local government helps people by providing simple equipment to test for Covid at home and report their health status.

"The authorities have tightened measures after witnessing a large number of deaths in 2020."

In Berlin, Germany, Hung Nguyen says he had his first vaccine shot in mid-April. He registered for an AstraZeneca vaccine though it was not his favorite option. Hung was not in the priority list that can choose Covid-19 vaccine.

But he said he had faith in the German government, which had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, and was willing to help reduce the pressure caused by a shortage of Pfizer vaccine.

"I wanted to protect myself and my family and make a contribution to returning to normalcy."

It is notable that some people in Berlin persistently "say no to vaccines" as they fear long-term effects, but they are a small proportion of the population, he says.

A majority of the people around him however feel like he does: that vaccines are the only solution to "live with the pandemic." He says vaccination centers and family doctors' clinics are busy all the time.

In mid-May Germany relaxed some lockdown measures as the number of new cases was slowing down. However, regulations on mask wearing in shops and on public transport and social distancing are still stringent and gatherings, including protests, are banned.

Hung Nguyen is at a vaccination center in Berlin, Germany, April 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of Hung Nguyen.

Hung Nguyen is at a vaccination center in Berlin, Germany, April 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of Hung Nguyen.

Hung acknowledges that since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has been confused because it had to balance regulations with citizens' rights and states’ rights of self-determination.

Nonetheless, the parliament passed a new law on coronavirus protocols which took effect on April 23 and is expected to help the government control the pandemic nationwide.

Also wishing to get Covid-19 vaccination but Dung Huynh, a Vietnamese in Paris, France, said her doctor asked her to wait because she is recovering from coronavirus infection in early May.

After being infected, she became more cautious and began to scrupulously adopt preventive measures. She refrains from going to crowded places and considers hand washing an essential activity. When she was allowed to return to work, she began to wear a mask most of the time.

She thinks most people in her city support vaccination, but some do not like the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for fear of side effects.

On May 19 France allowed restaurants and coffee shops to serve customers outdoors.

In Rome, Italy, Pham Mai says she is waiting to register for vaccination but does not know the schedule.

People in Rome are divided: Some are ready to get any vaccine just to get a vaccine passport to travel, others doubt the efficacy of some vaccines and are afraid of side effects. So Mai thinks the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be available in plenty.

By late May Italy is planning to open shopping malls during weekends, gyms and restaurants. All public activities are to be allowed from July 1.

Mai thinks preventive measures in the country are "quite lax" compared to Vietnam's since infected people are asked to quarantine at home and those who test negative one time can go out freely.

"It depends much on people's awareness, and so I choose to stay at home to protect myself."

Caution needed

Thanh says he still closely follows news about Covid-19 in the U.K. to adjust his daily activities. He does not wear a mask on the streets, only in enclosed places like shops and restaurants.

"We should not be negligent because the situation is getting worse in some countries like India."

As for Dung, she is anxious about a new Covid wave in France after many people went on summer vacation to Europe since there is no difficulty in crossing borders.

Mai says she is not too worried about the pandemic because she carefully protects herself.

"What I am more concerned about is finding other ways to earn money since my tourism work has been on hold for nearly two years now."

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