Source: Vientiane Times
The government will begin a nationwide rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged 6 to 11 starting in January, the Ministry of Health has announced.
The ministry has instructed provincial and district health authorities to calculate the number of children in this age bracket, which is the latest group targeted for immunisation. They will be given the Pfizer vaccine.
Director General of the ministry’s Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, told Vientiane Times on Friday that the government will amass a sufficient supply of vaccine for the vaccination of this age group next year.
The ministry and other government bodies are also preparing medical staff to administer the vaccinations in cooperation with the World Health Organisation and other development partners. Another shipment of Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive in Laos at the end of December.
In the meantime, the ministry is waiting for village authorities to provide figures on the number of children to be vaccinated, Dr Phonepaseuth said.
Health officials will inform parents about the importance of immunisation and encourage them to register their children for vaccination. It is hoped that the vaccination of children in this age group will encourage other family members to also get vaccinated, he added.
Children will only be vaccinated if their parents give their consent. The ministry will also evaluate the success of Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged 12 to 17, after the rollout of jabs for this age group finishes at the end of next month.
Local authorities and health officials have been asked to review the progress made in vaccinating people aged 12-17 and over and to ensure that jabs are given to those who are still unvaccinated. The vaccination of children aged 6-11 will begin in Vientiane, while provinces that are ready to put the programme into operation may also go ahead with immunisation.
The hope is that if sufficient numbers of children can be vaccinated, schools will be considered safe and allowed to reopen, according to the National Centre for Maternal and Child Health. Under the vaccination drive, medical staff, volunteers, equipment, funding and other essentials are being prepared to ensure that everyone in towns and rural communities is immunised. The ministry has also instructed authorities to open more vaccination centres at community dispensaries and in villages across the country to provide easier access for local people.