|Health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long and UNICEF Representatives in Việt Nam Rana Flowers hold talks on Wednesday regarding vaccine delivery to Việt Nam. — Photo from the Ministry of Health|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long has said Việt Nam wants the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine so it can inoculate 12-18-year-olds.
The minister held talks yesterday with UNICEF Representative in Việt Nam Rana Flowers on expediting the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Việt Nam amid the intense fourth wave.
Long said Việt Nam is battling the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus and several decisive measures have been implemented to stabilise the situation, including more talks with foreign manufacturers and partners for more COVID-19 vaccines and facilitating local development of Việt Nam’s own vaccine.
He said the delivery of vaccines to Việt Nam has been “very slow” despite efforts to secure enough doses for 70 per cent of the population of nearly 100 million by the end of this year.
Rana Flowers shared concerns over the complicated developments of the current fourth wave in the country. She said that 1,910 high-capacity cold chain fridges to store vaccines – supported by Australia’s aid to Việt Nam – will be delivered to Việt Nam by UNICEF in late July.
UNICEF has also ordered five refrigerated trucks for transportation of vaccines and the shipment will arrive in August and September, along with some 5 million syringes via air routes.
Regarding expediting COVID-19 shipments to Việt Nam via the COVAX Facility, the UNICEF official remarked that future shipments could come to Việt Nam and other countries as soon as July from a new manufacturer that has been approved for emergency use by the WHO.
She lauded Việt Nam’s initiative to establish a national COVID-19 vaccine fund, and the Government and the health ministry’s efforts in fighting coronavirus outbreaks.
The UNICEF representative also expressed concerns over Việt Nam’s quarantine protocols for children.
Long said that one of the lessons for Việt Nam’s success in battling the COVID-19 pandemic is centralised quarantine, especially as the variant dominating the current outbreak could easily infect all members of a country, so health authorities must continue quarantining direct contacts of the infected to protect public health.
However, the health minister noted children are a priority group in Việt Nam, with all quarantine fees covered by the State, and recently, guidelines have been revised to allow children under five years old to be quarantined at home, while children over five years old can have one accompanying family member or guardian in quarantine facilities.
“We will continue to adjust the regulation on quarantine of children in line with pandemic prevention practices while respecting children's rights under international conventions.
"In addition, we also want to access Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine so we can give it to Vietnamese children aged 12-18," Long noted.
Concluding the meeting, Long reiterated the request for UNICEF to work with COVAX to speed up delivery of vaccines to Việt Nam in the third quarter, and the country’s commitment to using the vaccines in a fair and effective manner.
In response, Rana Flowers said she would have talks with relevant parties to expedite the delivery of vaccines to Việt Nam.
UNICEF has delivered some 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Việt Nam from COVAX out of the commitment of nearly 39 million doses. — VNS