|A reporter at a foreign press agency's office in Vietnam receives COVID-19 vaccine. — Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
Vân Nguyễn & Paul Kennedy
Việt Nam's expat community has been reassured they will not be left behind when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.
The country’s foreign ministry insists when more inoculations arrive, the vaccination programme will be extended to include the thousands of foreigners who call Việt Nam home.
Speaking exclusively to Việt Nam News about the issue, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng said there is no discrimination over nationalities.
And as the country seeks to accomplish herd immunity by April 2022, she reiterated the importance of including foreigners in the vaccination drive.
|First batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Vietnam in April. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết|
“There will be no discrimination against foreigners living and working in Việt Nam,” Hằng said.
“In the humanitarian spirit, when Việt Nam receives more vaccines, we will expand the vaccination programme for other expat groups in Việt Nam because we won’t be all safe until when herd immunity is achieved.
“The Government's ultimate goal is to achieve herd immunity by the end of this year. And I would like to reiterate that there is no discrimination against foreigners in vaccination in Việt Nam.”
After receiving international praise for the way Việt Nam handled the early days of the pandemic, a fourth wave that began at the end of April has caused a colossal spike in cases.
The number of infections has increased by more than 21,000 and the death toll has tripled. HCM City is the area worst hit.
This is why the need to secure more vaccines is paramount. The country is aiming to have 150 million doses by early next year.
When vaccines were first made available, frontline workers were given priority to receiving doses. But as more inoculations arrived, the net was widened and has already included a number of foreigners.
Hằng said: “Việt Nam has inoculated more than 800 members of foreign diplomatic missions, and United Nations agencies in the country and their family members in Việt Nam along with more than 60 reporters and press assistants at foreign press agencies' offices in Việt Nam.
“The vaccination is carried out in accordance with the Government’s Resolution 21 on COVID-19 vaccine purchase and using and there will be no discrimination against foreigners living and working in Việt Nam.
“There are priority groups for vaccination, including the frontline workers, the elderly and those who are about to go abroad to study or work. For foreigners in Việt Nam, it is based on the mutual relations among countries.
“Việt Nam vaccinated diplomats and members of foreign diplomatic missions, and United Nations agencies in the country as well as reporters and press assistants at foreign press agencies' offices in Việt Nam for free. And most members of Vietnamese diplomatic missions abroad and Vietnamese correspondents abroad have also been vaccinated in the host countries.
“I would like to reaffirm that with the goal to achieve herd immunity with no one being left behind and no discrimination between foreigners and Vietnamese people, we will administer vaccines for all groups for both Vietnamese people and foreigners living and working in Việt Nam.”
|A Vietnamese health worker is inoculated against COVID-19. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết|
Hằng also pointed out the incredible lengths Vietnamese medical staff go to ensure the best possible treatment of people of all nationalities.
She cited the case of Scottish pilot Stephen Cameron, who was once considered the country’s sickest patient but went on to make a full recovery.
The spokeswoman added: “It should be reaffirmed that the Vietnamese Government always cares for and creates favourable conditions for foreigners living, studying and working in Việt Nam to ensure their safety in all aspects including health safety.
“When the pandemic broke out, we paid attention to and offered treatment for all, including foreigners in Việt Nam. There have been very critical cases, including a British citizen.
"Recently we have also successfully treated a United Nations employee contracting COVID-19 in Timor Leste. This has been hailed highly by the international community.
“I can affirm that foreigners living and studying in Việt Nam, both short-term and long-term, can rest assured that they will always receive the attention and equal treatment in both healthcare and vaccination. When there are more vaccines, we will make the vaccination coverage universal for both Vietnamese and foreigners.” VNS
Vaccine campaign timeline
January 4: Việt Nam is in talks with vaccine developers from the UK, the US, Russia and China to purchase vaccines
January 30: Việt Nam’s Ministry of Health announces it has approved the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine
February 24: The first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrive at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, HCM City
March 8: Việt Nam launches its COVID-19 inoculation drive, administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to medical workers in Hà Nội, HCM City and northern Hải Dương Province – the country’s biggest pandemic hotspot at the time
April 1: The first batch of 811,200 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shipment via the COVAX Facility arrive
May 16: Việt Nam receives the second shipment of nearly 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility
May 26: Another 288,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrive in HCM City
June 4: Việt Nam announces it will secure a total of 170 million COVID-19 vaccinations
June 17: One million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Japanese government arrive at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội
July 7: The first shipment of 97,110 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrive at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội
July 8: Việt Nam has administered a total of nearly 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, of which 249,532 people have been fully vaccinated
July 9: A shipment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by Japan to Việt Nam and a separate batch of 580,000 doses purchased from AstraZeneca arrive at HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport