Now is the time to act against new variants with booster vaccinations

July 20, 2022 | 18:14
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New coronavirus variants are hindering economic recovery and development, as well as posing dangers to the health of people in Vietnam. Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about the importance of getting a booster vaccine to deter greater risk.

Why are the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour choosing now to promote more COVID-19 booster vaccinations among trade unionists and labourers?

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong

The pandemic is still developing complicatedly around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an increase in the number of infections in many countries, mostly due to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

The BA.5 variant has been detected in Vietnam, thus increasing the risk of more outbreaks. Therefore, if people do not take extra doses, and cities and provinces neglect vaccinations, this risk will increase.

This drive to promote booster shots is meaningful as it conveys a crucial message. Taking the third and fourth shots of a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect labourers’ health, as well as the health of their relatives and communities. It will contribute to controlling the health crisis and facilitating economic recovery and development.

In recent times, Vietnam has been successful in achieving national coverage of two shots for people aged 12 and older.

Moreover, according to recommendations from the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine efficacy will decrease gradually 3-6 months after a second shot. Therefore, people should have extra doses.

Is Vietnam’s vaccine supply sufficient for extra doses, particularly for labourers in industrial zones (IZs) and export-processing zones (EPZs)?

Vaccinations can help control the pandemic and facilitate business and production recovery in IZs and EPZs. The prime minister has directed cities and provinces to accelerate vaccination for labourers in these locations in a safe and efficient manner.

Under the drastic direction of the government and guidelines of the MoH, vaccination in cities, provinces, IZs, and EPZs – especially in the northern region – are doing well. However, in the south, progress is slower.

There are even still employees and employers that have avoided vaccinations altogether. This might result in negative consequences, affecting the community and preventing economic recovery and development.

Regarding the vaccine supply, the MoH is now allocating enough vaccines for cities and provinces to carry out third and fourth shots.

After successful pandemic messaging over the past year, is the MoH working on any new messaging?

In line with the MoH’s guidelines, people should take a third and fourth vaccination in order to increase vaccine efficacy.

Besides vaccinations, the MoH is drafting a “V2K” message and seeking comments from ministries and agencies. V stands for vaccine, which is of course considered the most important and efficient measure to shield against the pandemic. 2K stands for “khau trang” (face mask) and “khu khuan” (disinfection), which are also important.

People should also wash their hands often with soap or disinfectant while cleaning workspaces, offices, and homes to ensure a clean environment.

The MoH on June 23 issued Document No.3297/BYT-DP on third and fourth vaccination shots for workers in industrial zones.

As of July 4, Vietnam has administered over 233 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with national coverage of two shots for people aged 12 and older reaching almost 100 per cent.

Many cities and provinces have failed to meet their vaccination schedule for third and fourth shots, and therefore the rate of people with those doses among people aged 18 and older has reached 67 and 31 per cent, respectively.

By Bich Thuy

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