Vietnam is to begin its COVID-19 vaccination program next month, with frontline healthcare staff and elderly people in line for the first doses as the country tackles a new wave of coronavirus infections, state media reported yesterday.
The Southeast Asian country expects to receive 60 million doses this year, including 30 million under the WHO-led COVAX scheme, with a first batch of 204,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive on Sunday.
“The first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, prioritizing frontline medical workers and high-risk groups, will begin in March right after the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives and passes quality checks,” the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Refrigerators able to store vaccines at temperatures of minus-86°C to minus-40°C had been prepared in the country’s three biggest cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, the paper said.
The government had previously said it was in talks with Russian and US vaccine manufacturers on potential supply agreements, while it expects a homegrown vaccine to be ready for domestic inoculation by May.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment its vaccination program.
Late last month, Vietnam approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use days after the country detected the first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months.
Thanks to targeted mass testing and strict quarantining, Vietnam managed to contain the virus for months, but a fresh outbreak has proved more difficult to stamp out.
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