Students of Lý Tự Trọng Secondary School, Trà Vinh City in the southern province of Trà Vinh get COVID-19 vaccines. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hòa
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health marked the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness (December 27) on Monday by calling on all people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
During a meeting co-organised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the news was announced that all localities will aim to complete third booster shots in the first quarter of 2022.
The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, a day to highlight the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for, and partnerships against epidemics, was proposed, negotiated, and promoted by Việt Nam, demonstrating the country’s continuously growing role as a key player in the global health security arena.
In December last year, the United Nations General Assembly approved the resolution on International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, an initiative put forward by Việt Nam, designating 27 December as the day to mark the occasion.
It is held to draw public attention to the importance of vaccinations, the roles of all-level authorities, agencies, organisations, and individuals in vaccination activities in general, and specifically the COVID-19 vaccination.
Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn said that in response to COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, together with disease prevention and control measures, Việt Nam approached COVID-19 vaccine supplies including the COVAX Facility, to negotiate with vaccine producers and implement vaccine diplomacy with countries and international organisations.
To date, the country has allocated more than 166 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to localities and agencies nationwide, of those more than 145 million doses have been administered, he said.
About 79 per cent of Việt Nam’s population, including children aged 12 and over, have received at least one dose while about 66 per cent of its population two doses, Sơn said, adding that Việt Nam’s vaccine coverage was now higher than the WHO’s target – 40 per cent of the population in each country expected to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 in 2021.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Quang Hiệu said that more than a year ago, with deep concerns about the devastating impact of infectious diseases and major epidemics, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading across the world, and with the achievements as ASEAN Chair in 2020, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 term and as a responsible member of the international community, Việt Nam proposed the United Nations General Assembly to establish the International Day for Disease Prevention and Control on December 27.
The initiative received widespread support and response from the international community, with 112 countries co-sponsoring.
“In Việt Nam, for many years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has always made efforts to coordinate with the health sector in taking advantage of international resources, knowledge and experience to prevent and respond to epidemics, especially pandemics. COVID-19,” he said.
He added that as the head of the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made use of a network of more than 90 Vietnamese representative offices abroad and coordinated with Health Ministry, related ministries, and sectors to call on supports from international friends and partners in COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.
“Thanks to the participation of the whole political system, vaccine diplomacy has achieved very important results, making a positive contribution to protecting people's health and lives while restoring and developing socio-economic, ensuring security, redirected the epidemic prevention and control strategy to "safely adapting, flexibly, and effectively controlling the COVID-19 pandemic as in the Government's Resolution 128 dated on 11 October 2021,” he said.
Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Việt Nam said that the theme of "sharing vaccines, saving lives, recovering the economy" is relevant as we are seeing a surge in newly confirmed cases and deaths while we strive to live with COVID-19.
“It is an unprecedented success that safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines were developed within a year. Over 8.6 billion vaccine doses have been administered within a year,” he said.
“It is really impressive that Việt Nam has been able to secure over 160 million vaccine doses and administered over 140 million vaccine doses to the eligible population in such a short time period.
To facilitate equitable access to the vaccine, the COVAX facility has shipped over 800 million vaccine doses to 144 participating economies which included more than 46 million doses that have arrived in Việt Nam.
“However, persistent global vaccine inequity remains and is of a growing concern,” he said, adding that so far, only under five per cent of the population in low-income countries had been completed a primary series of vaccination.
“The emergence of the Omicron variant of concern underscores the vital need for fair and broad access to vaccines to end the pandemic. Solidarity and coordination are crucial, within and among countries. No one is safe unless all of us are safe.” — VNS