Việt Nam begins COVID-19 vaccination with 250 medical workers in HCM City, Hà Nội, Hải Dương
HCM CITY— Some 250 medical workers at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCM City and National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hà Nội and in Hải Dương Province on Monday became the first in Việt Nam to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
They are among frontline workers in 13 provinces and cities who will get the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine starting today, as the country launches the largest vaccination drive in its history to inoculate 70 per cent of the country’s 100 million population to achieve herd immunity.
The Ministry of Health chose the two hospitals since they are tasked with treating COVID patients, especially severe cases while Hải Dương is the epicentre of the country’s third wave of infections with over 700 recorded so far.
The director of the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Nguyễn Văn Vĩnh Châu, said: “The hospital has 900 doctors and nurses working in its departments of infectious diseases D, emergency aid and intensive care, who will get the vaccine this week.
“[Today] 100 out of 900 doctors and nurses got the vaccine.”
Since it was International Women’s Day on March 8, women doctors and nurses got priority, he said.
The first person to get the vaccine at the hospital, Dr Dư Lê Thanh Xuân, told Việt Nam News: “I was happy to be chosen the first person for the vaccination. Thirty minutes after getting the shot, I did not have any side effects such as headache. I feel healthy.”
Usual side effects include headache, fever, fatigue, chill and others.
“I hope everybody in the country gets the vaccine.”
Dr Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the hospital’s department for infectious diseases D and among the 100 to be vaccinated, said he and his colleagues now have “safe biological armour.”
The hospital got the vaccines from the Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company and stores them in its GSP-standard refrigerator, Châu said.
Workers are trained to deal with potential complications following vaccination, he said.
“We cannot affirm COVID vaccines are 100 per cent safe. They also have side effects like other vaccines. We prepared the vaccination implementation process very carefully. The hospital has one own vaccination area for its health officials. Safety related to vaccination is primary.
“Preventing COVID-19 transmission to health workers is imperative to take care of patients and, most importantly, not harm other patients.”
Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director at AstraZeneca Việt Nam, said: “For two weeks, since the vaccine arrived in HCM City, it has gone through a stringent yet fast-track quality assurance process to ensure patient safety and adherence to local standards.
“We are grateful to the Vietnamese Government and Ministry of Health for their guidance and support throughout this process so that priority groups can be protected as soon as possible. We will continue to work closely with the Government and our partners on this holistic journey to both put an end to the pandemic and accelerate Việt Nam’s economic recovery.”
In Hà Nội, 100 employees at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the leading hospital for treating COVID-19 patients in Hà Nội and northern region, were vaccinated.
Deputy Minister of Health Trần Văn Thuấn and WHO Representative in Việt Nam, Kidong Park, were at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases (Đông Anh Campus), to witness the vaccination.
Professor Nguyễn Văn Kính of the hospital said it is fortunate no medical worker has died due to COVID since the pandemic began early last year, partly thanks to the expertise obtained from dealing with SARS in 2003-04.
On Tuesday the Hà Nội health department will start vaccinating staff at Thanh Nhàn Hospital, another major public facility, and 300 workers at the Hà Nội Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
In the COVID-19 hot spot Hải Dương, 50 people who work on the frontlines were given the jab today out of the allotted 33,000 doses.
Phạm Thị Tuyết Nhung, 40, an employee at the Hải Dương City medical centre who collects nose-throat swab samples for COVID testing, was the first to receive the vaccine.
“Before the shot I was quite anxious, but seeing the meticulous preparation and responses planned for all sorts of possible scenarios, including a mobile emergency unit, I felt much more at ease,” she said.
She hoped more people in Hải Dương would get the shot.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn said more AstraZeneca and other vaccines would be imported for the country’s largest ever vaccination campaign.
The country also is developing its own COVID-19 vaccines, he said.
“COVID-19 is under control in the country. Because it takes a long time for the vaccine to create immunity, people should continue to comply with the ministry’s 5K message of Khẩu trang (face mask) – Khử khuẩn (disinfection) – Khoảng cách (distance) – Không tụ tập (no gathering) – Khai báo y tế (health declaration). ” — VNS