By Quang Huy – Translated by Kim Khanh
Two staff of Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), importer of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, stand outside a freezer where the vaccines are kept. arrived in HCMC on a flight from Seoul . They are the first batch of 30 million doses Vietnam had ordered from the company.
Only those assigned by the firm could enter and operate within this area.
Part of the 117,600 vaccine doses inside the freezer.
A staff member uses a forklift to practice unloading a supposed shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Outside the freezer, a staff member places reusable dry ice gel packs into a Styrofoam box. Those boxes would store vaccine doses temporarily when transported from storage to specialized distribution trucks.
Each box contains a certain amount of doses depending on the detailed plan of vaccination for each locality as regulated by the Health Ministry.
Tran Han Tuan, 37, head of the VNVC warehouse department in southern Vietnam, said the truck is parked 2.8 meters from the freezer’s door and that loading a box takes only ten seconds. Therefore, “all movements must be especially quick and accurate.” “We have yet to make any mistakes, but remain quite nervous since the entire nation is counting on this first batch of vaccines,” he noted.
The back door of the truck will be opened in only one minute to receive the vaccines to ensure their quality remains unaffected by exterior conditions.
A package of vaccines is taken out of a Styrofoam box.
Each package of vaccines is equipped with a temperature measuring device. If the temperature exceeds the allowable limit (2-8 degrees Celsius), this device will raise an alarm, which means the shipment is not eligible for administration.
Two freezer trucks, valued at more than VND1 billion ($43,400) each, will be in use for the upcoming mass vaccination. For now, 13 cities and provinces that have recorded community transmissions in the latest wave will receive the vaccine first. They include northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh where the outbreak started on Jan.28, along with HCMC and Hanoi.
The Hanoitimes – The MoH is working with the COVAX to arrange for another shipment of 1.3 million doses to arrive at Vietnam in March.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) would mobilize all resources to carry out Vietnam’s largest vaccination program yet with an estimated of 100 million doses.
|Local volunteer vaccinated with domestic Covid-19 vaccine named Nanocovax in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Tu|
Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long made the statement at an online conference discussing plan for the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program held today [March 6].
“With the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine doses set to be administered on March 8 in the northern province of Hai Duong, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there would no doubt be side effects, but this is not the reason for Vietnam to stop the vaccination program,” stated Long.
According to Long, Covid-19 vaccines are developed and manufactured in the shortest time in the history of vaccine development, so the effective period of vaccines varies from six months to two years.
“In addition to importing vaccines, Vietnam would accelerate the R&D processes for domestic Covid-19 vaccines to ensure long-term public health security,” Long added.
The minister suggested any post-vaccination side effects is possible, as not any vaccine can be 100% safe.
“As the vaccine is new, so the vaccination program will be carried out in a cautious manner,” added Long, saying local health authorities have evaluated the safety of vaccines in Vietnam.
With the limited amount of vaccine doses, Long said the MoH would prioritize vaccination for 13 cities and provinces of high risk.
“The MoH is working with the COVAX to arrange for another shipment of 1.3 million doses to arrive at Vietnam in March,” he informed.
Under the government resolution NO.21 on the 11 priority groups, Long said the first doses of Covid-19 vaccines would be allocated for health workers at 21 health facilities with the highest level of risks, followed by front-line workers of the Covid-19 fight in Hai Duong, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
One of a key point in Vietnam’s vaccination program is that health officials would carry out health check-up for locals before vaccination to ensure safety.
Every people getting vaccinated will be added into a database for supervision.
“Vietnam’s vaccination system would later be integrated with other countries, which would serve as a basis for vaccine passport, and is managed via QR code,” Long noted.
Last month, Vietnam received more than 204,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca as part the WHO-led COVAX Facility vaccine-sharing scheme.
Vietnam has been negotiating with AstraZeneca to import 30 million doses for 2021 and another 33 million doses from COVAX.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are possible side effects after getting a Covid-19 vaccine including: pain, redness, swelling, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Hung Yen, Hoa Binh, Gia Lai, Binh Duong, Dien Bien and Ha Giang would receive around 117,600 vaccine doses by AstraZeneca, delivered to Vietnam last month. First prioritized are those on the frontline of the coronavirus fight, including medical workers treating Covid-19 patients, officials commandeering the Covid-19 fight, contact tracers, reporters and the army.
Those who have been vaccinated would be monitored through their digital health profiles, and would receive a digital certification proving they have been inoculated.
Future vaccination schedules would be rolled out in accordance with the quantity of batches available, overseen by the health ministry. Besides cities and provinces with outbreaks, densely populated areas with multiple industrial complexes and traffic routes would also be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination, according to the schedule.
The central government’s budget would be used to buy vaccines and relevant equipment like syringes, as well as for transportation and storing. Localities could also use their own budget for the same purposes.
On Saturday, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the first vaccine shots would be reserved for the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, its counterpart in HCMC and northern Hai Duong Province, currently Vietnam’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot.
“There are few vaccine doses, so it’s impossible to distribute them to all 63 cities and provinces,” he said, adding that besides the aforementioned locations, some other medical facilities treating Covid-19 patients would receive some vaccine shots first too.
The exact number of vaccine doses to be distributed to these locations has yet to be confirmed.
Vietnam expects to begin vaccinating prioritized groups starting next Monday with the first batch of 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
The country also expects to receive around 150 million vaccine doses by next year to cover 70 percent of its population. The vaccine doses, to be divided into seven batches, would be from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, global vaccine access mechanism Covax, and domestic sources.
HCM CITY — Frontline health workers, non-medical personnel who are potentially exposed to Covid-19 patients and samples and police and military personnel will be the first to get vaccines in HCM City, according to its Department of Health.
On Friday it submitted to the Ministry of Health’s general department of preventive medicine its COVID-19 vaccination priority list.
More than 44,000 people will be vaccinated now, including 2,270 health workers, 388 contact tracing personnel and 1,362 people in COVID-19 surveillance groups.
The rest include 600 army personnel, 1,042 police officers, 513 personnel at government-designated quarantine facilities, 38,000 individuals in community groups for COVID-19 monitoring, prevention, and control.
The vaccination, comprising two AstraZeneca shots, is expected to begin on Monday.
The first batch of 117,600 doses arrived on February 24. — VNS
MELBOURNE — Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, emerged on Sunday from a strict weeklong lockdown imposed after a community cluster of the more contagious British coronavirus variant.
There were no new local COVID-19 cases recorded on Sunday, health officials said, marking a full week of no community transmissions across the country.
Footage on TVNZ, New Zealand’s state-owned television network, showed people lining up at coffee shops on Sunday morning with many saying they were feeling relieved.
Auckland, a city of nearly two million, will continue to have limits on public gathering and masks are obligatory on public transport. Restrictions might be further eased on Friday.
Neighbouring Australia also had no local COVID-19 cases on Sunday, making it the 37th day of no infections this year. There have been no related deaths in 2021.
Swift public health measures combined with aggressive contact tracing, border closures and compulsory quarantine for travellers have been credited with making New Zealand and Australia highly successful in keeping the pandemic from spreading.
Both countries saw their economies recovering speedily in the second part of 2020. Australia’s economy expanded at a much faster-than-expected pace in the final quarter of last year and all signs were that 2021 has started on a firm footing too.
Coronavirus inoculation began in both countries, with the vaccination rollout in Australia becoming slightly complicated after Italy blocked a shipment of the AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt, among the first receive the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday after an earlier shipment, said the rollout is on track.
Inoculation with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine started in February, but most Australians will be vaccinated with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The weekly number of administered doses is expected to reach 1 million by the end of March when CSL Ltd begins to locally produce 50 million of the AstraZeneca doses.
The government is spending more than AUD6 billion ($4.6 billion) to support the vaccine rollout with contracts for over 150 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines.