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70,000 refused jabs for health condition are all vaccinated

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A teenager receives a Covid-19 booster shot in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune of Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Monday. Hean Rangsey

70,000 refused jabs for health condition are all vaccinated

More than 70,000 people who were previously refused vaccination for Covid-19 due to their pre-existing health conditions have already largely been vaccinated in the interim by returning for a follow-up visit to get their jabs, according to Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine.

Vandine disclosed the figure while also announcing that the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 had begun to discuss fourth dose plans using Pfizer vaccines for frontline workers.

“In the past, when our people came for vaccinations and our medical staff found out that they had a health problem or condition, our team didn’t vaccinate them out of caution. We then keep a record of the number of people who were not allowed to get the jab at that time,” she said on January 3.

“Following up with those people, we’ve determined that they have already returned to get Covid-19 jabs for the most part. Therefore, the more than 70,000 people on that list are no longer reported in that category because they have already been vaccinated.”

Vandine, who also serves as head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, added that recently the vaccination team has been working with the 25 municipal and provincial health departments to promote Covid-19 vaccines to people with health problems that were initially considered to possibly be at risk for complications but have been approved since then.

According to the ministry January 3 report, Cambodia has vaccinated 89.18 per cent of the estimated 16 million population with at least a first coronavirus jab.

Regarding the fourth dose, Vandine said the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 convened a meeting on January 4 to discuss the plans.

The move to administer fourth doses followed Hun Sen’s announcement in December. The premier said at the time that there are about 500,000 frontline workers, including members of the armed forces, who will receive their fourth booster shot with the Pfizer mRNA vaccines donated by Australia.

“On January 4, the Standing Committee led by [Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth] will hold a meeting to discuss the plan as well as convey important points on fourth doses with those leading the frontline officials, especially the frontline medical staff considered to be at high risk,” Vandine said on January 3.

She said that after the meeting, the committee would make a proposal based on the meeting’s outcome to the prime minister for his final decision.

“In other countries around the world, they have just reached their third dose stage, while Cambodia always seems to be one or two steps ahead of everyone else in providing vaccines,” she said.

Research has shown that Pfizer’s vaccines have been among the most effective overall globally against any variant of Covid-19, including Omicron, and when used as a booster shot in conjunction with any of the other vaccines, it can boost antibodies by as much as 1,000 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.

Vandine said that along with the implementation of preventive measures and despite a reduced ability to prevent infection with the Omicron variant, the Covid-19 vaccines remain an important tool for preventing severe illness or death among those who are infected with the Covid-19 virus.

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