Vietnam is in the opening stages of conducting a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign towards reaching community immunity, after which full production can resume, borders can open, and life can return to normal. Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Health, discussed with Hoang Binh the key points of the programme.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) chairs the organisation that controls the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign. How will this campaign be carried out?
|Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Health |
The vaccination will be carried out in all cities and provinces, as well as authorised vaccination places in communes and wards. In addition to traditional authorised vaccination locations, the campaign also covers mobile vaccination facilities at factories, schools, and other places to ensure access to vaccines in the most favourable manner.
The campaign attracts the involvement of all ministries and agencies, especially the ministries of national defence, public security, information and communications (MIC); and transport. They will fully support the MoH in this important event. An important point is that the campaign will be carried out in all localities at the same time. We think that this is an extremely important factor, contributing to its success.
Furthermore, we promote IT application in the vaccination campaign in line with the direction of the government, which has so far produced good results. The MoH develops electronic medical records for individuals; accordingly, each person can register for a vaccination appointment on electronic medical records, or via SMS messages. Based on the information, the system will inform people of the location and calendar for their vaccination, thus preventing queues and saving time.
Also, health professionals use electronic medical records to manage vaccinators via a software system jointly developed by the MoH and the MIC. The MIC guides all vaccination facilities to apply this. The electronic medical records are also integrated with vaccination results and testing information. This is also the database for the upcoming application of a potential vaccine passport.
Moreover, people can declare symptoms and post-vaccination side effects so that health facilities can manage and treat them in a timely manner.
The target of the vaccination campaign is to cover 70 million of the population. Why is such a goal necessary?
At present, many countries in the world set the goal of reaching community immunity this year or next. Vietnam aims to reach a similar goal by the end of 2021 to early 2022.
In order to reach community immunity, it is necessary to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the country’s population, thus enabling the country to bring localities to normal life. For this, the MoH built and submitted to the Politburo and the government a plan to buy 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and carry out the nationwide vaccination campaign, thus ensuring that the required number of people are able to access the vaccines.
To ensure safety during the vaccination process, what preparations has the MoH made?
Vaccination safety is an issue that the MoH pays special attention to. During the implementation of vaccinations here, not only for COVID-19 vaccines, but also other kinds of vaccines in the past, the ministry has always given top priority to safety.
Compared to other countries, the difference in Vietnam’s vaccination is to carry out careful screening for all potential vaccinators. They will have a delay in vaccination if their health conditions fail to meet the requirements.
Health facilities which give the shot have to meet the requirements on qualified infrastructure, equipment, and manpower; carry out screening and consultation, and then ensure safety during the vaccination in line with the MoH’s guidelines. After getting the shot, people have to stay at health facilities for at least 30 minutes so that health professionals can monitor their condition, and so they can receive instructions for self-monitoring at home the following 24 hours and then the following three weeks.
Emergency teams are always ready at hospitals to treat serious post-vaccination side effects to ensure the highest possible safety for inoculators. The MoH has set up a steering board for vaccination safety which gathers senior professors and health experts to support all units nationwide in ensuring safety of the inoculation.