Health ministry asks for approval to receive Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine aid for children aged 5-11

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Health ministry asks for approval to receive Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine aid for children aged 5-11

This image shows a grade-seven student in Ho Chi Minh City receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has asked the central government for permission to receive 13.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine as Australian aid for vaccination of children aged five to under 12.

Among the donations are 9.7 million shots which will expire in July this year at the latest.

The health ministry made the proposal in a document to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Saturday, in which the agency reported the outcome of a recent meeting with the Australian Embassy regarding Australia’s vaccine donation.

The Australian side said it could donate Vietnam a total of 13.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to under 12 and would pay the cost of transporting the donation to Vietnam, the ministry said.

The vaccine aid will be divided into two batches, with the first including 9.7 million doses and the second, four million.

Of the first batch, nine million shots were manufactured by Moderna while the remainder were by Pfizer.

These jabs, the longest expiry of which is July this year, are available in Australia and can be transported to Vietnam early next month.

The second batch of four million doses, with a shelf life of four to six months, will be delivered through UNICEF possibly next month, the ministry said, without elaborating on the expiry date of this batch.

The Australian side said it would soon provide the vaccine’s records to the health ministry for licensing for use, and would deliver the shots to Vietnam upon the ministry’s approval.

If approved by the central government, the vaccines will be used for vaccination next month, the ministry added.

The agency also stated it was coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue mobilizing vaccine aid for children from COVAX, the U.S. government, and a number of countries and international organizations.

On February 5, the government issued a resolution on buying 21.9 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children from five to under 12 years old.

On March 18, PM Chinh asked the health ministry to clarify the tardiness in purchasing vaccines for kids from five to under 12 years old and take disciplinary actions against organizations and individuals responsible for such lateness.

In a dispatch issued one day later, the prime minister directed the ministry to mull over administering fourth COVID-19 vaccine doses to adults and third shots to children aged 12-17, speed up the purchase of vaccines for children aged five to under 12, and prepare plans to inoculate small children from three to under five years old.

Health workers had administered 187,727,790 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the nation’s adult population, including 71,204,501 first shots, 67,985,890 second jabs, and the rest for additional primary doses and boosters since vaccination was rolled out in March 2020, the ministry reported on Saturday.

The number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses given to children aged 12 to 17 nationwide had reached 17,133,368, including 8,785,986 first shots and 8,347,382 second jabs.

Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the Southeast Asian country has documented 8,919,557 COVID-19 infections, with 5,166,117 recoveries and 42,258 fatalities, the ministry’s data shows.

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