Vietnam PM urges purchase of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

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Vietnam PM urges purchase of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

This image shows a health worker administering a COVID-19 vaccine shot to a teenager in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Nam Tran/ Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has directed the Ministry of Health to speed up the purchase of vaccines for children aged five to under 12 while considering plans for the vaccination of children aged three to under five.

In a dispatch released by the Government Office on Saturday, PM Chinh told the health 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.

A day earlier, the government chief asked the ministry to clarify the tardiness in buying vaccines for kids from five to under 12 years old and take disciplinary actions against organizations and individuals responsible for such lateness.

Previously, PM Chinh had three times directed the Ministry of Health to make reviews and inspections related to the delay, but the ministry has yet to able to buy vaccines for children in this age group.

In a recent report to the National Steering Board for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the ministry explained it had “proactively accessed vaccine resources for children under 12 years old.”

The ministry affirmed it had reached all initial agreements with Pfizer to sign a contract to purchase vaccines from this supplier.

However, the ministry said it was waiting for an official response from the U.S. regarding its potential donation of vaccines for children before sourcing shots from Pfizer.

If the ministry did not get any response by March 15, it would proceed with purchasing vaccines from Pfizer, the ministry said in the report.

Such a wait resulted in a delay in negotiating for a purchase deal with Pfizer, the ministry expounded.

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

Currently, 100 percent of Vietnam’s adult population has received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses, while 47 among the country’s 63 cities and provinces have reached a second-jab rate of more than 95 percent.

Health workers had administered 184,509,503 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the nation’s adult population, including 70,938,226 first shots, 67,872,903 second jabs, and the rest for additional primary doses and boosters since vaccination was rolled out in March 2020, the ministry reported.

The number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses given to children aged 12 to 17 nationwide had reached 17,056,957, including 8,751,910 first shots and 8,305,047 second jabs.

Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the Southeast Asian country had documented 7,791,841 COVID-19 infections, with 3,991,393 recoveries and 41,817 fatalities, the ministry’s data shows.

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