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Gov’t looks into vaccines for children

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A medical worker takes samples from a girl and her mother for Covid-19 testing in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district in May. Hong Menea

Gov’t looks into vaccines for children

A study into administering Covid-19 vaccinations to children will begin after the initial drive for vaccinating people 18 and over is complete, a senior Ministry of Health official said.

Health ministry secretary of state York Sambath on June 19 said Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac had confirmed that its vaccine can be used on children aged 3-17. She made the remarks during the handover of one million doses of Sinovac vaccines at Phnom Penh International Airport on June 19.

“We will work with Sinovac. Our procurement and technical commissions will check and consider the second step of the vaccination strategy for children. We also have to think of its effectiveness for these children,” she said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan also said on June 10 that WHO had been conducting further studies into vaccinations for children under 18.

“Once it has been thoroughly analysed, perhaps in the near future there will be a change in the recommendations by the WHO. However, WHO still recommends that priority be given to vulnerable groups – frontline medical workers, old people and other groups vulnerable to Covid-19,” she said.

Sambath of the health ministry said another two million doses of the Sinovac vaccine will arrive later this month. She noted that Cambodia also expected to receive an additional three million doses in July as Prime Minister Hun Sen had already approved the purchase. An agreement with Sinovac is forthcoming, she said.

Sambath said Cambodia would contact ASEAN countries so that the bloc’s members would recognise vaccinated Cambodians who travel abroad.

“I think vaccination is of great help. So we call on all 18-year-olds to be vaccinated with a second dose,” she said.

As of June 19, Cambodia had received eight million doses and vaccinated more than 3.3 million people, or about 33.11 per cent of the targeted 10 million nationwide.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said most vaccines had been acquired from China and that the vaccination strategy was designed to vaccinate the population as fast as possible.

He said the country has adequate supplies of vaccines and is on track to achieve the goal of herd immunity by year’s end or early 2022.

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