Vietnam is expected to begin COVID-19 vaccination this week following a request from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
During a regular meeting of the government in Hanoi on Tuesday, PM Phuc called for further efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the five important rules including wearing face masks, disinfecting, keeping safe distance, avoiding gatherings, and filling out health declaration forms.
He requested the Ministry of Health to begin COVID-19 vaccination for prioritized groups of individuals within this week.
Dang Quang Tan, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the health ministry, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the agency is exerting all efforts to prepare for the vaccination.
The process will begin as soon as a factory certificate is issued for the batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses having arrived in Vietnam last month, Tan elaborated.
The vaccine was developed by the UK’s AstraZeneca and manufactured by South Korea, he continued, adding that South Korea has promised to send the certificate within this week.
The vaccine had already been assessed by the World Health Organization and is now being reviewed by Vietnam’s National Institute for Control of Vaccine and Biologicals.
According to the government’s resolution on the use of COVID-19 vaccine, the inoculation will start in provinces and cities with ongoing pandemic outbreaks, urban areas with large populations, and important transport hubs.
The northern province of Hai Duong is currently the country’s largest epicenter, while northern Quang Ninh Province and Hai Phong City have recently recorded local infections, Tan said, adding that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are important transport hubs with a large population.
These localities may be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccination, the official continued.
Health workers and employees of local steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control are among the prioritized groups of individuals, he added.
Vietnam previously received the first batch containing 117,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on February 24.
The next batch with several millions of doses is expected to arrive in late April, said Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong.
The health ministry said last week that Vietnam aims to obtain 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, including 30 million through the WHO-led COVAX scheme, 30 million from AstraZeneca, and the rest from negotiations with U.S. producers.
Talks were also taking place to secure Russia’s Sputnik V jab, the ministry added.