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VN’s health ministry details COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, lists priority groups to receive the shots

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Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are used in the WHO-led Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, to which Việt Nam is a recipient country. — AFP/VNA Photo

HÀ NỘI — With the first COVID-19 vaccine doses slated to arrive in the country later this month, the Vietnamese health ministry has issued its initial vaccination rollout plan, including the priority groups to be given the jabs.

The vaccines are from the WHO-led Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, created mainly to ensure supplies for developing countries. Việt Nam as an eligible recipient is set to receive 30 million doses throughout 2021.

The 11 priority groups are identified based on the outbreak situation and given the current limited supply of vaccines in Việt Nam: medical workers; people in the anti-pandemic efforts (COVID-19 prevention and control steering committees of all levels, quarantine facility staff, reporters, etc.); diplomats, customs officers and people working entry and exit procedures; military personnel; public security forces; teachers; elders above 65 years old; essential workers (aviation, transport, tourism staff, utility workers, etc.); people with chronic health issues; people who want to study or work overseas; and people in virus-hit regions.

The priority ranking is evaluated based on criteria such as areas where COVID-19 cases are present, areas with COVID-19 deaths occurred, major cities with high population density and localities considered traffic and transit hubs.

According to the plan signed off by Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, the vaccination drive will aim to eventually inoculate 80 per cent of the Vietnamese population against the COVID-19 in a bid to achieve herd immunity.

However, with the current limited supply that they have secured, health authorities are targeting 20 per cent coverage in the 2021-22 period, with 95 per cent of high-risk groups being vaccinated.

The majority of doses from the first batch of 4,886,000 million doses  from the COVAX mechanism – 25-35 per cent delivered in the first quarter of 2021, and 65-75 per cent delivered in the second quarter – will be given to medical workers.

In the first quarter, the health ministry expects to inoculate 95 per cent of 500,000 frontline medical workers and 116,000 anti-pandemic staff. 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine are to be used (each will be given two shots as per recommendations).

In the second quarter, the health ministry aims to inoculate 95 per cent of 9,200 customs officers, 4,080 diplomats, 1,027,000 military officers, 304,000 public security officers, and 550,000 teachers that are considered in high risks categories. All in all, 3.6 million doses are to be used in this period for 1.8 million people.

In the third and fourth quarter, if the promise of COVAX Facility to provide enough doses to cover 20 per cent of each eligible recipient country’s population is fulfilled, Việt Nam will inoculate nearly 16.5 million with 33 million doses. 95 per cent of 750,000 teachers, 7,600,000 elders above 65 years old, 1,930,000 essential service workers, and 7,000,000 adults with chronic health issues are to be given the jabs.

Budget

To get protection for the majority of the population, Việt Nam needs to diversify supplies of vaccines – including vaccines manufactured in the country and maximising the resources from the society (businesses and local administration’s budgets) in addition to the State budget to get the vaccination efforts running, deputy health minister Thuần said.

Even localities with sufficient budget which want to purchase the vaccines for their populace will have to follow the central Government’s approved plan, he said.

The budget needed to give vaccine shots for 20 per cent of the population is estimated at VNĐ 6.739 trillion (US$293.67 million), but over 90 per cent of this cost – about VNĐ 6.3 trillion – is shouldered by the COVAX initiative. The State budget will chip in VNĐ24 billion, some municipal and provincial governments have pledged some VNĐ163 billion, the remaining VNĐ202 billion – will need to be mobilised from other sources.

In addition to the 30 million doses committed by COVAX, Việt Nam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) signed a commercial deal with AstraZeneca to buy 30 million doses with its own budget, but the company is not allowed to distribute the vaccines however it wants to and has to follow the health ministry’s plan to ensure that the vaccine drive is implemented in a fair, equitable and effective manner.

Four vaccine manufacturers in Việt Nam are also researching COVID-19 vaccines, with Nano Covax by Nanogen slated to begin phase two of human trial later this month, and another vaccine by VABIOTECH preparing to enter human trials.

Transport and storage

The health ministry said it would only choose to purchase COVID-19 vaccines that are deemed safe and effective, have received prequalification from the World Health Organisation, have obtained approval from a Stringent Regulatory Authority, and have affordable price tags, and preferably, ones that can be stored at the 2-8 degrees Celsius (normal refrigeration temperature which Oxford/AstraZeneca can be kept at, while Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require ultra-cold chain storages).

Vaccines supplied via the COVAX mechanism will enjoy import fee waive, will be imported via Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội and Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City, automatically given the clearance when they arrived at the airports and then transported directly to State-managed storages to be examined by health authorities.

The transport of vaccines to local areas will be carried out by trained vaccination personnel, the health ministry said.

The health ministry  has also surveyed the existing cold chain storage situation in the country and said that at the same time, the available facilities can store 3 million doses at ultra-cold condition (-70 degrees Celsius), 1.8 million doses at -25 degrees Celsius, and tens of millions of doses at standard cold storage temperature 2-8 degrees. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/886300/vns-health-ministry-details-covid-19-vaccine-rollout-plan-lists-priority-groups-to-receive-the-shots.html

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Vietnam to begin COVID-19 vaccination this week

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Vietnam is expected to begin COVID-19 vaccination this week following a request from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

During a regular meeting of the government in Hanoi on Tuesday, PM Phuc called for further efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the five important rules including wearing face masks, disinfecting, keeping safe distance, avoiding gatherings, and filling out health declaration forms.

He requested the Ministry of Health to begin COVID-19 vaccination for prioritized groups of individuals within this week.

Dang Quang Tan, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the health ministry, told Tien Phong (Youth) newspaper that the agency is exerting all efforts to prepare for the vaccination.

The process will begin as soon as a factory certificate is issued for the batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses having arrived in Vietnam last month, Tan elaborated.

The vaccine was developed by the UK’s AstraZeneca and manufactured by South Korea, he continued, adding that South Korea has promised to send the certificate within this week.

The vaccine had already been assessed by the World Health Organization and is now being reviewed by Vietnam’s National Institute for Control of Vaccine and Biologicals.

According to the government’s resolution on the use of COVID-19 vaccine, the inoculation will start in provinces and cities with ongoing pandemic outbreaks, urban areas with large populations, and important transport hubs.

The northern province of Hai Duong is currently the country’s largest epicenter, while northern Quang Ninh Province and Hai Phong City have recently recorded local infections, Tan said, adding that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are important transport hubs with a large population.

These localities may be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccination, the official continued.

Health workers and employees of local steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control are among the prioritized groups of individuals, he added.

Vietnam previously received the first batch containing 117,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on February 24.

The next batch with several millions of doses is expected to arrive in late April, said Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong.

The health ministry said last week that Vietnam aims to obtain 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, including 30 million through the WHO-led COVAX scheme, 30 million from AstraZeneca, and the rest from negotiations with U.S. producers.

Talks were also taking place to secure Russia’s Sputnik V jab, the ministry added.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210303/vietnam-to-begin-covid19-vaccination-this-week/59573.html

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Province in central Vietnam encourages households to plant uniform flowering trees

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The leader of the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien-Hue has called on households and agencies to deck the streets of the province with hoa mai (Ochna integerrima), a popular type of flowering tree.

The direction was confirmed by Phan Ngoc Tho, chairman of the Thua Thien-Hue People’s Committee, on Monday.

According to Tho, the tree-planting campaign aims to convince each institution and residential household to plant one or two Ochna integerrima trees at the front of their buildings or houses.

It is recommended that participants choose the local variety of Ochna integerrima, which differs from other types by its consistent five-petal flowering and highly scented blossoms.

The initiative is expected to paint the whole province with the yellow shade of Ochna integerrima during its blossom season in spring, which would add another charm to the place and consolidate the position of the flowering tree as a representative of Thua Thien-Hue.

The campaign is also part of local authorities’ effort to assign a kind of blossom tree to each of the four seasons in the locale.

According to Tho, the first step involves the planting of at least two Ochna integerrima trees at the head office of the municipal People’s Committee, followed by an advocacy campaign for tree planting among residents.

Earlier, local authorities have planted lines of Ochna integerrima trees along two streets in Hue City’s Imperial City heritage site, one of the must-sees for tourists.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210303/province-in-central-vietnam-encourages-households-to-plant-uniform-flowering-trees/59563.html

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“Magic eyes” – great help for traffic police officers

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Lieutenant Colonel Doan Ngoc Minh Tuan, Deputy Head of the Da Nang Traffic Police Department, said the deployment of traffic cameras has eased work pressure on police officers.

'Mắt thần' giúp CSGT không phải đứng đường, tài xế thay đổi lớn

The central city of Da Nang is one of the first cities to place traffic cameras on main street arteries. Up to 143 cameras have been installed in 47 locations. The installation of cameras has raised people’s awareness, and encouraged them to follow traffic lights and control their speed. It has also reduced the presence of police officers at major traffic points.

According to the Da Nang Traffic Police Department, from 2016 to 2020, these “magic eyes” helped to find and report 48,118 traffic violations, of which 38,004 cases were issued total fines of 55 billion dong and 7,590 driving licenses were withdrawn.

Mr. Nguyen Van Phuong, a resident on Vo Chi Cong street, said that when there was no surveillance camera, many drivers did not follow traffic lights. After cameras were installed, people were more aware of compliance, causing fewer accidents.

Interviewed by VietNamNet on February 23, Lieutenant Colonel Thai Anh Tuan, Head of Propaganda and Inspection of Traffic Accidents and Violations (Da Nang Traffic Police Department), said the surveillance cameras detect violations such as speeding, using wrong lanes and running red lights, and monitor traffic vehicle flows.

“Annually, the cameras detect about 10,000 violations. Many people used to cross at yellow lights. Currently, the people are more responsive, hence reduction in accidents. Drivers are well aware of surveillance cameras,” said Tuan.

Reduce on-site work for police

'Mắt thần' giúp CSGT không phải đứng đường, tài xế thay đổi lớn

Lieutenant Colonel Doan Ngoc Minh Tuan, Deputy Head of Da Nang Traffic Police Department, said that “magic eyes” have been placed at important traffic points, monitor traffic for 24/24 and record violations correctly and clearly. Cameras are also useful for detecting and tackling crime.

According to Tuan, surveillance cameras have eased on-site pressure for police officers. “They used to be present all the time at key traffic points to monitor traffic. Since the installation of cameras, they instead patrol to inspect and improve their efficiency,” said Tuan.

He further revealed that cameras have been placed on such street arteries as Vo Nguyen Giap and Nguyen Tat Thanh. His department and the transportation department plan to ask Da Nang People’s Committee to invest and install more surveillance cameras on other roads for social security.

Ho Giap

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/magic-eyes-for-traffic-police-officers-716758.html

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