Source: Vientiane Times
Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh has ordered health authorities to begin vaccinating children aged 12 years and older so that schools can reopen.
The premier issued an order on Wednesday asking authorities in charge to calculate the number of people in the 12-17 age group, which is the latest target group for immunisation.
In his Executive Order No. 24, the PM told authorities to start vaccinating this group this month, in the hope that schools can reopen in the near future.
Efforts to reopen schools come after mounting concern about the quality of education after most schools across the country were forced to run classes online as a result of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.
Authorities were also told to review the progress made in vaccinating people aged 18 and older and to ensure that jabs are administered to people who are still unvaccinated.
The prime minister instructed ministers, provincial governors and other senior state officials to oversee and push for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations to ensure Laos reaches the target to vaccinate at least 50 percent of the adult population by the end of this year and at least 80 percent by the end of next year.
Earlier this month, PM Phankham told the ongoing 2nd ordinary session of the National Assembly’s ninth legislature that the government aims to vaccinate up to 70 percent of the adult population by the end of this year. The 50 percent target has already been reached, he said.
Vietnam has promised to donate 600,000 doses of vaccine to Laos, while China – a leading vaccine provider for Laos – will give 2.5 million doses.
With these new doses, the prime minister said the number of people vaccinated will be not less than 70 percent.
The government says that vaccinating as many people as possible to immunise them against the virus is crucial as Laos prepares to reopen to visitors.
PM Phankham told the National Assembly that reopening the country to revitalise businesses and the economy is a ‘must do’, saying countries in the region and across the world are now doing so.
He explained that it appears to be impossible for a country to record zero Covid-19 infections. On the other hand, international experts say the virus outbreak is likely to continue and that more variants of Covid-19 could emerge.
In his executive order, PM Phankham said cluster outbreaks in Laos are likely to increase, adding that vaccination along with the fulfilment of other measures is the best way to cope with the pandemic.
He ordered the preparation of medical staff, volunteers, equipment, budget and other essentials to roll out and expand the vaccination programme to ensure that people in towns and rural communities are immunised.
Authorities were told to open more vaccination centres at community dispensaries and in villages to provide easier access for local people.
PM Phankham told the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control to draw up plans to source more vaccines and supplies so that all target groups could be vaccinated.
He called on the relevant bodies to raise public awareness so that more people have access to vaccines and related services, as well as educating people on ways to adapt to a new normal way of living with Covid-19.