The director of a district-level medical center in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta has been suspended for allowing a 13-year-old child to receive COVID-19 vaccination.
The People’s Committee in Can Tho City has decided to suspend Nguyen Kim Hai, director of the Thot Not District Medical Center, for 15 days over the administering of a COVID-19 vaccine shot to an under-18-year-old person without consulting the local steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control.
During the suspension, competent authorities will review the extent of the violation and determine a suitable disciplinary action for the health official.
On Monday, a Facebook user posted a status saying that a health worker and her family members, including a 13-year-old niece, had been fully inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Thot Not District.
The post stirred up public concern as authorities in Can Tho and Vietnam in general have yet to issue any guideline on COVID-19 vaccination for people under 18 years old.
Hai verified the information later the same day, adding that several other children who are family members of local health personnel in the district also received the jabs.
As family members of health workers are also at high risk of getting infected, the district-level health authorities decided to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to these special cases, he explained.
"Although Can Tho City’s Department of Health has not announced any guideline on COVID-19 vaccination for people under 18 years old, the manufacturer’s instructions show that the vaccine can be given to people over 12 years old,” he continued.
“All family members already gave their consent on the inoculation of these children.”
An official from the Can Tho health department said that each district is authorized to make the list of individuals eligible for the vaccination.
However, they must belong to the target groups that are approved by the Ministry of Health.
Aside from Hai, D.K.Q. – a health worker in Tan Loc Ward, Thot Not District – was suspended for her involvement as well.
She was the one who used her connections with local health authorities to administer the vaccine shots to her 13-year-old niece.
Vietnam aims to immunize at least two-thirds of a population of nearly 98 million people against COVID-19 by the first quarter of next year.
Around 29.2 million vaccine doses have been administered since inoculation was rolled out on March 8, while more than 5.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.