The AstraZeneca vaccine doses, part of a batch of 966,320 doses gifted by Japan on Wednesday, were taken to a storage facility at HCMC’s Pasteur Institute on Thursday, said deputy health minister Nguyen Truong Son.
Normally, a vaccine batch imported into Vietnam would need to be evaluated over 48 hours before it could be approved for use. But the process would be streamlined by the health ministry so the shots could be given sooner, according to Son.
The vaccine approval process is expected to be completed by Friday and shots could be given starting Saturday. The doses would be distributed throughout around 1,000 vaccination stations in the city, said Son.
“The vaccination program would happen over five to seven days, with around 786,000 doses given to priority groups, and around 50,000 shots given to soldiers and police officers in HCMC,” he added, noting that the expiration date for the new doses is still a relatively long way to go.
On Thursday, HCMC recorded 137 Covid-19 cases, the highest number of infections observed within 24 hours for the southern metropolis. Vietnam meanwhile recorded 503 local Covid-19 cases, another new high for the nation’s daily tally ever since the pandemic hit early last year.
HCMC has recorded 1,197 local Covid-19 cases since the new wave started in late April, behind only Bac Giang with 5,007 cases and Bac Ninh with 1,454 cases.
The city, home to more than 7.2 million people of or older than 18 years of age, has so far inoculated over 70,000 people among priority groups. With the new doses, around a million citizens in HCMC could be vaccinated.
Nationwide, over 1.5 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, mainly frontline coronavirus fighters.