Source: Vientiane Times
Health authorities say that people who are most likely to develop severe symptoms from Covid infection, including those over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions, will have access to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
A shipment of 100,620 doses of the vaccine arrived in Laos on Monday, 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).
The government will use this batch to vaccinate 50,300 people above the age of 60 and with underlying health conditions, under the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
A new round of vaccinations will begin next month, taking in Vientiane and some of the larger provinces.
Among those who will be prioritised are people with hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver or kidney disease, and chronic conditions such as Down syndrome.
The vaccine rollout will start in Vientiane and later expand to other high-risk areas such as Bokeo, Champassak and Savannakhet provinces.
The arrival of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines is very timely as the government has set an ambitious target to protect 50 percent of the population with Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.
Welcoming the arrival of the vaccine, Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sanong Thongsana said this latest batch would help move the country closer to achieving this target,
UNICEF Representative a.i. to Laos, Ms Beate Dastel, congratulated the government on its effective handling of new Covid-19 cases and swiftly rolling out the vaccination programme.
UNICEF and its partners will continue to work closely to support Laos’ pandemic response, including the procurement of vaccines, she said.
As well as the vaccines, on June 6 Laos will receive an additional supply of 100,700 syringes and 1,175 safety boxes procured by UNICEF.
“All three of the Covid-19 vaccines currently in use in Laos have been listed for emergency use by WHO, giving assurance about the quality, safety and efficacy of these vaccines,” said WHO Representative to Laos, Dr Mark Jacobs.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine requires an extremely cold storage temperature of -70 degrees Celsius to maintain its efficacy and therefore requires an ultra-cold chain.
The Institut Pasteur du Laos has reserved two new ultra-cold freezers specifically for Covid-19 vaccines, which can potentially store up to 740,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.