Vietnamese people will have access to COVID-19 vaccination free of charge in the long term like other types of vaccine included in the country’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Vietnam has made urgent efforts to obtain COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, but the number of vaccine shots distributed to the country in the coming time is still limited, the committee said during a meeting on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health has listed 11 groups of individuals who will be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccination next month.
When supply is enough, all Vietnamese people will have access to free COVID-19 inoculation in the long run like other types of vaccine included in the EPI.
A small number of vaccine doses will be sold to people who can afford them.
The EPI started in Vietnam in 1981, initiated by the Ministry of Health with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The initial goal of the program was to provide free immunization to children under one year old to protect them from six common and highly fatal infectious diseases.
By 2010, the program had included 11 types of vaccine which protect people against tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, typhoid, and pneumonia/meningitis caused by Hib.
According to Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, Vietnam will need approximately 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for all citizens.
The Southeast Asian country will receive 30 million free doses supplied by COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) in 2021.
Vietnam has also purchased 30 million more doses from AstraZeneca, which will be delivered this year.
The first batch containing 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccine shots arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday morning.
On February 26, the second phase of the human trial of made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccine Nanocovax will begin in Hanoi and the Mekong Delta province of Long An.