Việt Nam aims to have 95 per cent children from 5-11 vaccinated against COVID-19

February 22, 2022 - 14:41

Health officials and doctors agree that Việt Nam is ready to implement a safe vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11, aiming to have vaccination rate in this age group of 90-95 per cent.

Việt Nam is preparing for a vaccination programme for children in the 5-11 age group. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Health officials and doctors agree that Việt Nam is ready to implement a safe vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11, aiming to have a vaccination rate in this age group of 90-95 per cent.

Experts say following a successful vaccination programme for children aged 12-17, it is now vital for younger children to be vaccinated to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Very few adverse reactions were reported after younger children received the vaccine, meaning that parents should be confident in the safety and efficacy of the jabs. 

The experts spoke during a recent talk show on vaccination for children held by Báo Chính Phủ (Government News), an online newspaper of the Government, with the participation of Asso. Prof. Dương Thị Hồng, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, head of the division on the National Expanded Vaccination Programme, Assoc. Prof. Trần Minh Điển, Director of the National Children's Hospital and Assoc. Prof. Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, Director of the HCMC Children's Hospital No.1.

“We hope that parents have trust in us. The upcoming vaccination programme for children aged 5-11 will be done safely,” Assoc. Prof. Dương Thị Hồng, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and head of the division on the National Expanded Vaccination Programme, said.

“Instead of using mandates to make parents have their children vaccinated, we are more into persuading them and doing communication work to give them scientific evidence and results of the safe vaccination programmes we have done as well as the effectiveness of the vaccines to gain trust from parents,” she said.

"We should learn from our lesson with measle vaccines. Despite having abundant measle vaccines, there were still children unvaccinated. They contracted the disease with severe complications and died.

"We have implemented a successful vaccination programme for children aged 12-17 with 17 million doses administered for people in this age group, said Hồng.

More than 97 per cent of children in this group have received at least one dose and 94.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

About 0.5-10 per cent of vaccinated children in 12-18 reported having normal reactions. The rates vary in different localities. This is based on the data from vaccination sites. There are also reported cases with severe reactions but they have been handled and recovered.

Some reports of myocarditis after the vaccine have been reported but they have been treated and there is no risk.

Among 17 million doses administered for children, there are five in every million doses of vaccine reporting to have severe reactions.

"The rate in Việt Nam is safe and within the recommendation of WHO and the manufacturers," Hồng said.

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She said teachers also play an important role as they would cooperate with the health workers to monitor the post-vaccine reactions of children. They should also have an understanding of the vaccination campaign, the need for this campaign and communicate with parents about the importance of having their children vaccinated.

She noted that initially the rate of parents with children aged 12-17 agreeing to vaccinate their children was only 70 per cent but when the vaccination programme was implemented successfully and safely, more parents got their children vaccinated and the vaccination rate in this age group is now very high.

“How the vaccination campaign is implemented is very crucial,” she said.

“One of the important parts of the vaccination programme is handling cases with severe post-vaccine reactions,” she said.

“It is important to have health specialists instruct health workers at district and commune levels to identify signs of adverse post-vaccine reactions among this group.”

Parents and teachers should also be aware of the reactions to have a prompt response, she said.

"The vaccination programme for children in the 5-11 age group will be implemented like the one for older children. We will have a 24/7 emergency team to handle cases with reactions post-vaccination," she said.

"We will also ensure the vaccines are delivered in a safe manner to all vaccination sites across the country," she said.

Children aged 12-17 in Vĩnh Phúc Province are vaccinated against COVID-19. VNA/VNS Photo

According to Asso. Prof. Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, from January-July last year, the HCMC Children's Hospital No.1 treated more than 2,000 COVID cases, of which 1,100 were people under 18.

After the vaccination campaign was completed, the number of hospitalisations declined. By November last year, only 163 children were hospitalised and the numbers in December and January (this year) were 150 and 75 respectively.

There were many reasons for the declining hospitalisations among children but vaccination played a very crucial role in reducing infections and hospitalisations, he said.

Assoc. Prof. Trần Minh Điển said: “Children should have the right to be vaccinated and prevented from the risk of the disease. As a paediatrician I recommend parents let their children be vaccinated.”

“Currently the number of infections in Hà Nội is very high but the rates of progression and deaths are well controlled,” he said.

Dr Hùng said the vaccination must be done carefully. It is necessary to create consensus for parents, teachers and students, to make them aware that the benefit of vaccination is much higher than not vaccinating.

Therefore, it is necessary to explain to parents about the vaccination programme and to have a specific and cautious vaccination plan.

The HCMC Department of Health has made preparations for the vaccination plan. Paediatricians and doctors with extensive experience in vaccination will participate in the programme. It is important to screen prior to and monitor after vaccination.

“It is also important to set up an emergency network which is on duty 24/7. I think the vaccination programme will succeed,” he said.

At a meeting held last week, deputy minister of health Nguyễn Trường Sơn said 19.2 per cent of total infections in the country are children under 18 years old. Specifically, 4.8 per cent are children aged 13-17; about 8 per cent are children from 6-12 years old; 2.8 per cent children in the ages of 3-5 and the other 3.6 per cent are children under three.

The number of child deaths from COVID-19 is 165, accounting for 0.42 per cent of the total deaths of COVID in Việt Nam. Specifically, those in the 13-17 age group account for 0.11 per cent, children in the 6-12 age group account for 0.1 per cent and those from 0-2 years old make up 0.18 per cent. — VNS