Vietnam’s Ministry of Health started the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children aged five to under 12 at a launching ceremony held in the northern province of Quang Ninh on Thursday.
Nearly 200 sixth graders at Tran Quoc Toan Middle School in the province’s Ha Long City were the first of the children in that age group to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Before getting inoculated, students presented their pre-immunization screening sheets with their parents’ signatures agreeing to the inoculation.
After receiving their shots, the students were monitored for 60 minutes instead of the usual 30 minutes for adults.
Within three first days after injection, children should not play sports or other games requiring strong movements, and they can return to such activities from the fourth day at a milder level than usual, advised Dr. Nguyen Quynh Thuong, one of the doctors in charge of pre-vaccination examination.
Parents are also recommended to closely monitor their children after immunization to detect any abnormalities early, Dr. Thuong said.
Vaccines used for the immunization was from Australian-funded Moderna doses, of which the first batch was delivered to Vietnam on April 9, said Dang Duc Anh, director of the Central Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
During the past days, teachers and health workers at the school made all preparations for the vaccination drive, including pre-immunization screening examination for students on Wednesday.
Sixth graders are the first to be inoculated, followed by lower grades orderly under the health ministry’s guidance.
Besides Quang Ninh, vaccines have also been transported to many storage places in the northern region for vaccination of children in other localities in the coming days, Anh said.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be used to vaccine children in the age group, according to the Ministry of Health’s instructions.
Moderna vaccine will be given to children aged six to under 12, at a dose equal to a half of that for adults, while Pfizer-BioNTech shots will be administered to children aged five to under 12, at a dose equal to one-third of the adult dosage.
Foreign countries and organizations have been committed to donating 16.8 million doses of children’s COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam as yet, the Ministry of Health said, adding that it will use up these jabs before they expire.
The ministry also said it had reached an agreement with the U.S.-based Pfizer Inc. to buy vaccines in different batches from the group.
It expects the first-shot vaccination of children to be completed by May 15 and the second-shot coverage to finish in June, the ministry said.
The country has around 11.8 million children in the age group, of whom 3.6 million have been infected with COVID-19, the ministry’s Preventive Health Department said.
Therefore, about 8.2 million children need to be vaccinated from now to the end of the second quarter, while the infected will be immunized later – three months after they have recovered from the disease, the department said.
Health workers have administered 191,738,285 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the adult population, including 71,404,860 first shots, 68,514,073 second jabs, and the rest for additional primary doses and boosters since vaccination was rolled out in March 2020.
Vietnam, with a population of 98 million people, has documented 10,320,599 COVID-19 infections, with 8,856,627 recoveries and 42,901 fatalities, since the pandemic erupted in the Southeast Asian country in early 2020, the health ministry’s data shows.
The number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses given to children aged 12 to 17 nationwide has reached 17,228,930, including 8,824,500 first shots and 8,404,430 second jabs, said the ministry.