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Health Ministry endorses Covid booster shots from year-end

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The Ministry of Health has come up with a plan to administer booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines to the fully vaccinated from the end of this year.

At a National Assembly discussion on November 8, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said Vietnam had secured enough vaccines for the entire population. The country has signed contracts to procure 200 million vaccine doses and has so far took delivery of 125 million doses, the local media reported.

The country has urged vaccine suppliers to ensure delivery within this year so that it can achieve herd immunity, the minister said.

Vietnam has administered more than 90 million doses. Nearly 84% of residents 18 and older have received at least one shot each, and over 40% have got two shots.

Vietnam is one of the 20 countries worldwide that have administered the most doses of Covid-19 vaccines, ranking second in Southeast Asia and seventh in Asia. It is also among the three countries with the fastest vaccination pace.

Long said the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant had upended the achievements in the response plans of many countries, adding that Vietnam passed three Covid waves but the current fourth wave has caused the biggest damage.

However, Covid hotbeds such as HCMC, Binh Duong, Long An and Dong Nai have basically put the pandemic under control with new cases and deaths falling significantly.

He also pointed out shortcomings in the pandemic response plan, such as poor forecasting, slow treatment, confusion and a lack of coordination.

The Government and the Ministry of Health will focus on restructuring the healthcare system, improving the quality of human resources and healthcare services and reforming financial mechanisms.

To safely live with Covid, Long said the Government issued Resolution 128 doing away with mobility restrictions. Cities and provinces cannot impose large-scale lockdowns.

The Ministry of Health is also working on a comprehensive strategy for the pandemic response plan for the future.

In related news, nearly 1.6 million Pfizer vaccine doses donated by the United States to Vietnam through the Covax Facility arrived in HCMC on November 7 and 8.

Specifically, a shipment of some 1.2 million Pfizer doses arrived on November 7 and more than 353,000 more doses reached the Tan Son Nhat International Airport last night.

The shipments have raised the United States’ total Covid vaccine donations to Vietnam to over 15 million doses.

Earlier, more than 1.3 million Pfizer doses arrived in Hanoi on November 6.

The United States also committed to providing Vietnam with more than US$30.2 million to fight the pandemic through training for thousands of medical workers, and the provision of testing equipment, vaccine storage facilities and machines used for Covid treatment.

Besides the Pfizer doses presented by the United States, more than 1.3 million Moderna doses from the Covax Facility’s advance pricing agreement with the vaccine producer, arrived in Hanoi today, November 9.

With these shipments, the vaccine doses delivered through Covax has amounted over 27 million doses as of November 9.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on November 3, managing director of the Covax Facility Aurélia Nguyen said Covax would allocate more than nine million Pfizer and Moderna doses to Vietnam.

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