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AstraZeneca jabs to be rolled out in three priority areas

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A health worker prepares a dose of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Phnom Penh on March 3. Hong Menea

AstraZeneca jabs to be rolled out in three priority areas

The Ministry of Health will start AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 COVISHIELD vaccinations for people aged 60 and over from March 10 in three priority areas: Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk on a voluntary basis and free of charge.

In a press release on March 6, health minister Mam Bunheng said many people in this age group were willing to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has caused long queues and congestion at designated centres. This prompted the ministry to temporarily suspend vaccinations on March 7.

“The ministry will resume vaccinations on March 10 to allow time for sub-national authorities in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk provinces to organise people in that age group to receive a jab,” Bunheng said.

According to the ministry, local authorities at the municipal and provincial level will invite people aged 60 and over to get vaccinated at referral hospitals and at operational district hospitals in their area.

“The AstraZeneca vaccination campaign is being provided to the most vulnerable people in Phnom Penh and Kandal and Preah Sihanouk provinces only,” it said.

The Sinopharm vaccine, donated by China, continues to be given to people between the ages of 18 and 59. It has been given to priory groups such as healthcare workers, members of the armed forces, civil servants, officials of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, and rubbish collection workers.

The ministry said diplomats, UN officials, and international financial institution representatives, as well as international organisations and NGOs are advised to submit a list to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh has been designated as a vaccination site for the government’s senior dignitaries, diplomats, UN officials, international financial institution representatives, and international organisations and NGOs.

In Preah Sihanouk province, governor Kouch Chamroeun has decided to use Techo Sen Kamakor Primary and Secondary School as a place to use both vaccines for high-risk people from March 7 onwards.

He said that the provincial administration has made efforts to vaccinate members of the armed forces and civil officials at the front line in hospitals, quarantine centres and other relevant places.

“Vaccinations are continuing as planned. But many people to be vaccinated haven’t been identified. This has caused crowding at hospitals and leading to difficulties in controlling crowds. People are not following health measures. This is risky as it could lead to the transmission of disease,” he said.

Health minister Bun Heng has agreed to prioritise vaccinations for officials and staff members involved in providing air freight services from March 9 onwards.

The health ministry said that from February 10 to March 6, it had vaccinated a total of 78,825 civilians, while the Ministry of National Defence had vaccinated 96,080 members of the armed forces.

The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Cambodia on the night of March 2. It is the first phase of a total of 1.1 million doses to be delivered through the COVAX mechanism to Cambodia by the end of May.

Of the one million doses of Sinopharm vaccine, 600,000 arrived in Cambodia on February 7, with the rest set to arrive before the Khmer New Year in April.

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