Việt Nam could start vaccinating children 5-11 years against COVID from April

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Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines for children aged 5 to under 12 years old. — Photo courtesy of Pfizer

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will start the COVID-19 inoculations of children aged 5-11 years from the beginning of April, using 13.7 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines donated by the Australian Government.

According to the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), on March 22, the health ministry held a working session with the Australian Embassy in Việt Nam on the assistance regarding COVID-19 vaccines for children this young.

The programme is coordinating with the embassy to bring the first batch of vaccines to Việt Nam this week.

There will be about 9.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first delivery – 700,000 doses of Pfizer and 9 million of Moderna (with expiry date at July 2022) – which are already in store in Australia and could be transported to Việt Nam in early April after procedures are completed.

The second delivery comprising about 4 million of Pfizer vaccines donated by the Australian Government via the UNICEF, will also arrive in April.

Australia has said they would provide necessary documents for the health ministry to soon give approval for use, and they would also bear all the costs and responsibilities of transport.

Within March, the programme has been organising training on the vaccination of young children for health workers across the country and providing instructions and guidelines for local authorities on the immunisation plans.

After the vaccines arrived in Việt Nam and go through quality controls, they would be distributed to localities for administration early next month, according to the programme.

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Australian Government, the health ministry is also actively looking at other vaccine sources including from international organisations such as USAID, COVAX Facility and Governments of other countries, etc., to soon secure donation commitments of about 8-10 million doses, ensuring that all children aged 5-11 in Việt Nam will receive the full course (two doses).

The health ministry has also asked the Government to potentially buy more vaccines after the amount of donated vaccines is known for certain.

Earlier, the Government has agreed with the health ministry’s plan to buy nearly 22 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to administer to the children from 5 to under 12 years old, but reportedly contract issues with Pfizer and donation intentions from various partners have complicated and delayed the process.

To date, Việt Nam has basically completed the vaccination of people aged 12 and older, and aiming to wrap up booster shots for adults within the first quarter.

Up to 205 million doses of vaccines have been administered in Việt Nam (population of 98 million people) to date, with nearly 38 million booster shots in people aged 18 and older. — VNS

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