The Vietnamese government has agreed to spend over US$116 million procuring nearly 20 million doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children amid the raging pandemic.
Under a decision issued on Friday, the government will earmark VND2,652 billion, or some $116.5 million, to buy nearly 20 million doses of BNT162 vaccine from Pfizer for the vaccination of children aged from 12 to 17, as proposed by the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Finance is assigned to release the funding from Vietnam’s COVID-19 Vaccine Fund.
The expenditure, which will also cover expenses related to the vaccination, must be used properly, efficiently, publicly and transparently, the decision requires.
Vietnam has previously signed a contract to buy 31 million COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and has so far received more than 1.2 million doses since the first delivery made in July.
Earlier on August 28, ahead of the new school year, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked the ministries of Health and Education and Training to seek supplies of suitable vaccines to inoculate children aged 12 and older, so that fully vaccinated students can go to school instead of attending online classes.
The country has targeted to secure 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate two-thirds of its 98-million population, but it has so far got only over 38 million shots of various vaccines from different sources, including COVAX Facility, contract purchases and donations.
To date, the health ministry has approved eight COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in Vietnam, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Hayat-Vax, and Abdala.
Meanwhile, Nano Covax, one of the four vaccines being developed domestically, is going through steps to be licensed for emergency use as the first made-in-Vietnam coronavirus vaccine after several successful trials that began in December 2020.
By Friday evening, the number of people receiving the first and second vaccine shots nationwide had reached over 26.8 million and 6.18 million, respectively, the health ministry reported.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the country has registered 667,650 COVID-19 cases, including 433,465 recoveries and 16,637 deaths.
The Southeast Asian country currently ranks 47th among 222 countries and territories worldwide in infection cases while its death toll rate has been 0.4 percentage points higher than the global level.
The coronavirus has so far spread to 62 of the country’s 63 cities and provinces, except Cao Bang, where measures against coronavirus penetration have been applied strictly.
Ho Chi Minh City has become the most affected by the pandemic in the country with 327,315 infections and 12,934 fatalities, followed by its neighbors Binh Duong and Dong Nai Provinces, the ministry’s data shows.