Ministry of Health secretary of state Or Vandine, along with the World Health Organisation (WHO), continue to encourage individuals to remain vaccinated and receive Covid-19 boosters. 

In her New Year’s Eve message, Vandine urged vigilance during 2024, noting the importance of protecting against the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron JN.1, spreading in the region and Cambodia. 

“Everyone should receive regular Covid-19 vaccinations every eight to 12 months to safeguard themselves and their loved ones,” she said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease specialist who spearheaded the WHO’s technical response to the coronavirus, stated in early December that booster shots remain essential to curb the spread of Covid-19 amid ongoing virus mutations. 

“The booster dose strengthens our immune system, providing renewed protection against the virus. This helps cut the risk of infection, lowers the likelihood of severe illness requiring hospitalisation and notably reduces the risk of long-term consequences from Covid-19,” she explained.

Van Kerkhove noted that serious side effects from the vaccine and associated boosters are exceptionally rare.

On December 31, Battambang provincial deputy governor Soeum Bunrith said local authorities have distributed information to municipal and district administrations, particularly in Samlot, Kamrieng, Phnom Proek and Sampov Loun districts, which share their borders with Thailand. 

They are instructing authorities to educate residents on safeguarding against Covid-19 and its variants. Additionally, officials recommend wearing face masks and adhering to health and safety guidelines for large gatherings, as outlined by the health ministry.

Bunrith said that in Battambang, individuals have received booster doses, with some having received up to the sixth dose. However, the sixth and fifth doses have not been administered as widely as the initial four shots as some people believe that the Covid-19 situation is no longer a concern. 

“Every day, we encourage people to get vaccinated. During national holidays, we always urge people to get vaccinated at the health booths set up at these events,” Bunrith said.

Nop Vuthy, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, noted that provincial authorities have directed the health department to extensively promote measures for protection against the new Covid-19 variant. They are also encouraging residents and authorities in border areas to maintain full vaccination.

“We’ll keep spreading the word and encouraging those who haven’t received their full inoculation or are due for a booster to come in. We urge them to hurry up and get vaccinated,” he said.

All residents across Preah Vihear have completed their full vaccination, he noted. Although the uptake for the fifth and sixth doses has been limited, he said provincial authorities persist in promoting and reminding people to receive these additional vaccinations.

On December 30, 2023, the health ministry reported 11 new Omicron JN.1 cases. The ministry confirmed the presence of this new variant in the country, suggesting a potential series of exposures.