Laos health officials are speeding up the Covid vaccination programme, aiming to vaccinate 87.25 per cent of the population by the end of this year.
Vaccination is seen as essential in light of kick starting the tourism sector and the urgent need to rebuild the economy.
Immunisation is the best strategy to bring Covid-19 under control, health authorities say, and vaccination boosts immunity, reduces the severity of illness, and lowers the number of deaths from the virus.
As a further boost to the vaccination programme, a second donation of 501,600 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been provided by Poland and handed over to Minister of Health Dr Bounfeng Phoummalaysith.
The vaccine was welcomed by the Charge d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation to Laos, Baiba Zarina, along with senior ministry officials.
This special donation is extremely important as it contributes to the Lao government’s efforts to maximise the available resources in response to Covid-19 equally among the Lao population and foreign citizens living in Laos, Bounfeng said.
“The government welcomes this shipment of vaccine and would like to thank the Polish government for their continuing contribution, which will support the country greatly as we progress towards our current goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the population and 87.25 per cent by the end of 2022,” he added.
Zarina said: “We are very pleased to see an additional bilateral donation from Poland delivered to Laos.”
“This is a proof of the solidarity of Poland and of the commitment of help from the whole of Team Europe to support Laos in the fight against the coronavirus and its impact.”
This top-up of vaccines will help the Lao government to speed up the vaccination process and immunise a larger percentage of the population, Bounfeng said.
The vaccines will be primarily used to vaccinate those who are at risk of severe Covid-19 but have not yet received all the recommended doses.
Priority groups include healthcare workers, people aged 60 and above, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and essential workers such as schoolteachers, as outlined in the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
The EU, its member states, and financial institutions acting together as Team Europe, pool resources and expertise to jointly tackle the destructive impact of Covid-19 around the world.
Team Europe is mobilising additional funding and adapting its programmes to meet the needs of partner countries quickly and coherently, as no one is safe until everyone is safe
Last year, Poland donated 138,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Laos, with Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying Laos was currently experiencing the highest Covid-19 infection rate since the start of the pandemic.
The ministry also said the government was appealing to the international community for more support for its vaccination programme.
The ministry gave its assurance that vaccine reserves in Poland were sufficient to cover national needs as well as donations to countries in need.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIAN NEWS NETWORK