More than 1,500 high-school students in HCMC's outlying district of Cu Chi received their first Covid-19 vaccine shot on October 27, as Vietnam's child vaccination drive kicked off.
The district set up a vaccination site at Cu Chi Elementary School to vaccinate students aged 16 and 17 of two high schools and one community college. The site is near a hospital for medics to quickly respond to any situations that might occur.
The inoculation process on Wednesday morning was supervised by Vice Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Duong Anh Duc and leaders of the city’s health and education sectors.
Vice Chairman of the HCMC People's Committee Duong Anh Duc checks vaccination site at Cu Chi Town Elementary School. Photo: Duyen Phan
To prepare for the campaign, the municipal health department yesterday organized an online training session for about 3,900 health workers to provide them with such knowledge and skills as organizing child vaccination, pre-inoculation screening, handling post-injection side effects, and responding to emergency circumstances.
Parents or legal guardians showed up along with eligible teenagers to sign the consent as regulated, then waited outside to ensure social distancing in the areas for health monitoring before and after inoculation.
Ha Phuong, a 17-year-old girl, said she and her classmates were informed of the vaccination program three days ago after their online class.
"I feel normal for now and totally comfortable after taking the jab. I hope that once being fully vaccinated I could return to school soon to see my friends and teachers. We have had to stay home and study online for a too long time (four months)," Phuong said.
A father named Le Ba Hung, 44, said he and his wife agreed to let their son get vaccinated soon after being notified by the school.
"All my four family members have already got two injections and we are quite concerned when the youngest one has not yet been immunized, therefore, we did not hesitate for a second to administer the vaccine to our child because the vaccine has been approved by the health ministry," Hung said.
Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Health Nguyen Huu Hung said that after today, Cu Chi will open five more vaccination sites to inject 51,000 infants aged 12 to 17.
Along with Cu Chi District, downtown District 1 also started its child vaccination program on Wednesday, making both the first not only in HCMC but in Vietnam to immunize those under 18 against Covid-19, estimated at around 780,000, Hung noted.
“On the first day, Cu Chi vaccinated around 1,500 children aged 16-17, while District 1 started with 310 12th graders,” said the deputy director.
He added that authorities in District 1 started injecting 1,600 students at three sites, including Luong The Vinh High School, Ernst Thälmann High School, and District 1 Hospital, on Wednesday afternoon.
High-school students take a rest after receiving their first shot of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in HCMC on October 27, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan
“Cu Chi District and District 1 have been selected as pioneers before the mass inoculation can be deployed citywide. Other districts and Thu Duc City will initiate the inoculation drive on Thursday. However, only units that meet all safety conditions required by the health sector are allowed to carry out the vaccination, otherwise, the process will be postponed,” Hung stressed.
HCMC has been the biggest pandemic epicenter in the country since the fourth outbreak began on April 27, with over 426,800 local cases.
The city of about nine million people had administered nearly 13 million vaccine doses for adults as of October 27 afternoon, with more than 5.6 million people fully inoculated.
The corresponding figures for the country are over 52.58 million and some 21.5 million.
Vietnam's health ministry has chosen Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for inoculating children against Covid-19 in a vaccination drive that will be deployed nationwide from next month, according to Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.
The vaccine, produced by Pfizer from the US and BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, has been recommended for children by the World Health Organization, Long said, stressing that the vaccine is safe for infants.
Long said the Pfizer vaccine has been administered to the 12-17 age group in about 30 countries. On October 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognized the vaccine as suited for administration to the 5-11 age group.
Vietnamese adolescents will have their health carefully checked prior to the inoculation in line with the ministry’s Covid-19 vaccination guidelines, the minister stressed.
The nation’s two biggest cities, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi, have already worked out plans to vaccinate teenagers and children.
Hanoi’s vaccination campaign for children aged 12-17 is expected to commence in early 2022.