Prime Minister Hun Sen has cancelled his plan to get vaccinated for Covid-19 after the Office of the Economic and Commercial Adviser at the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh announced that the Sinopharm vaccine should only be given to people between the ages of 18 and 59.
In a Facebook post on February 5, Hun Sen said that as he was already over 68 years old, he would not be eligible to be inoculated.
“The plan for vaccinations on February 10 at Calmette Hospital must be cancelled because I and most other senior officials are over 60 years old and cannot be vaccinated,” he wrote.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said that while people over 60 could not receive the Sinopharm vaccine, study is also needed to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in individuals between 18 and 59.
“We have to be careful because it’s a new vaccine. It’s especially important to follow prescribed procedures properly. The [Cambodian] Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has decided not to vaccinate people over 60 years old,” she said.
Vandine said that adults younger than 60 were eligible for voluntary vaccination. Individuals getting inoculated will need a second dose after 14 to 28 days.
She added that people with contraindicating conditions also should not be vaccinated. Those include allergies to vaccines, foods or medicines, acute respiratory disease, asthma, eczema, urticaria, angioedema or other swelling.
Other at-risk groups who should not get the vaccine are people suffering from pre-existing ailments, especially severe chronic diseases, pregnant and lactating women and women who are planning to get pregnant within three months.
Vandine also included people with epilepsy or other causes of seizures, meningitis, mental illness, hereditary diseases, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, HIV, lymphoma, leukemia and cardiovascular disease.
People with liver disease, cancer or a history of Covid-19 infection and individuals otherwise advised not to be vaccinated by doctors should avoid the shot.
“Vaccination is voluntary and must be registered online. Health minister Mam Bun Heng will officially announce the use of an online registration system in the near future. Citizens who wish to be vaccinated can register,” she said.
She said people who do not understand how to use the online system can go to health centres for guidance from officials to ensure proper registration in the ministry’s system.
From February 9, the ministry will officially launch a new website that will allow people to register for vaccination.
“The health ministry will be ready to accept voluntary registrations from priority individuals to receive the vaccine,” she said.
According to a ministry press release, vaccinations with the Sinopharm shot will take place in public hospitals across the country according to a schedule to be announced at a later date.
As of February 7, Cambodia had recorded a total of 474 Covid-19 cases with 20 patients remaining hospitalised.