Source: Vientiane Times
Health officials will roll out round 3 of the vaccination programme next month, when target groups will be given the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines.
A shipment of 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled to arrive in Vientiane in July, Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphome, said on Friday.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine also looks set to arrive in Laos next month but the quantity to be shipped has not been confirmed.
The vaccines will be provided by the COVAX Facility a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
One of the main challenges the government is facing in its battle against the virus is to procure 7.4 million doses of vaccine to immunise 3.7 million people or 50 percent of the population by the end of this year.
To date, Laos has been given a quota of 6.6 million doses of vaccine which is insufficient to inoculate 3.7 million people.
“The government is trying to source the remaining vaccine [800,000 doses] from friendly countries. The government will also create a budget to purchase vaccines and source funding from private companies to buy sufficient quantities,” Dr Phonepaseuth said.
“Of course, vaccines are in huge demand by people the world over, not just in Laos. Nevertheless, I’m sure vaccines will be delivered to Laos in different stages.”
Laos has so far received 2.1 million doses of vaccine, of which 90 percent is from China’s Sinopharm. The Chinese government has provided 1.9 million Sinopharm doses to Laos.
The vaccine has been used to immunise older adults after the WHO approved it for use in people aged 60 or above and those with underlying health conditions. Previously the Sinopharm vaccine was given only to people aged 18-60.
“People cannot choose what type of vaccine they get when going to a vaccination centre because healthcare workers will make a decision based on the category they fall into,” Dr Phonepaseuth said.
In Vientiane, health officials stopped giving first doses of Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines last week after supplies ran out. In the meantime, health workers have begun administering second shots of AstraZeneca.
To date, 11.6 percent of the Lao population has received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 6.7 percent have been given a second dose. To date, Laos has recorded 2,110 cases of Covid-19 after 10 new cases were confirmed on Sunday, with one being identified in Vientiane, four in Khammuan, four in Champassak and one in Savannakhet province. Almost 2,000 people have been discharged from hospitals.
On Friday and Saturday, Vientiane has been recorded with zero new cases for two consecutive days.