VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times): Health authorities are rolling out round 2 of the vaccination programme, aimed at immunising hundreds of thousands of people against Covid-19.
Inoculations of first doses of 100, 620 doses of Pfizer vaccine and 500, 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine began on Tuesday (June 15).
Second doses will be given 21-28 days later, Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphome, told Vientiane Times.
The Pfizer vaccine is provided by the World Health Organization-led Covax Facility.
A shipment of 500, 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, provided by the Chinese government, arrived in Laos on June 14.
The Pfizer vaccine will be given to 50, 300 people over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions. Other priority groups are government officials, medical staff, those who work in border areas, and people who regularly cross the border.
So far, Laos has received about 2, 136, 620 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, of which about 90 per cent is the Sinopharm vaccine provided by China. Laos has also received 132, 000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine along with 1, 000 doses of Sputnik V.
As of June 12, some 712, 793 people had received their first dose of a vaccine, while 385, 921 had been given a second dose, according to the Ministry of Health.
The latest delivery of Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines will add fuel to the government’s efforts to vaccinate 50 per cent of the population (more than 3 million people) by the end of this year.
Asked if Laos could achieve this target, Dr Phonepaseuth said it depended on whether sufficient vaccines were available and could be delivered at the targeted time.
In addition to the vaccines provided, the government has prepared a budget to purchase vaccines.
“We have some money for this, but the world market cannot supply all the vaccines needed to meet demand, ” he said.
Laos expects to receive more Pfizer vaccine after the United States recently announced it would purchase and donate 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to 92 countries, including Laos.
Shipment of the vaccine will start in August. Some 200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year and the remaining 300 million will be delivered in the first half of 2022.
Dr Phonepaseuth said he had heard about the planned distribution of vaccine by the US, but details about the quantity and shipping timeframe had not yet been provided.
The Lao government is encouraging businesses to contribute to its vaccination programme by providing money to buy vaccines to inoculate their employees. Some companies have already made such a contribution.
The government is also partnering with China to buy Chinese-made vaccines for use by businesses. In addition, authorities are coordinated with Unicef to help businesses buy vaccines through the Covax Facility, according to the Director General. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network